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09-27-2021, 07:42 AM - 2 Likes   #1
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K-3 III water damage

Many photographers consider themselves fortunate if they own even one piece of great gear. I’ve found the new Pentax K-3 III to be one of those pieces of gear. That is perhaps why I found my recent experience with the K-3 III and Ricoh to be so disappointing. In my view, there appears to be a disconnect between some of Pentax’s marketing and its warranty.

There are a lot of details here, but I’ll try to be as concise as I can. And to be clear, my experience may be unique, “your mileage may vary,” as they say. It can be unreasonable to draw overly broad conclusions from one event. But in the spirit of sharing photographic experiences among those in the Pentax community, I thought many of you would find my experience interesting. At the end of this you might just think, “well, too bad for him,” and move on.

The short headline is this, while on vacation my K-3 III got wet, died, and Pentax won’t replace it. Both Pentax and Precision Camera Repair say the electronics were corroded so repairs don’t make economic or practical sense.

It happened while my wife and I were on a kayak day tour on Lake Superior along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The conditions were ideal, the camera was kept in a boat bag between shots. It did get wet. It was never submerged. As a point of reference, I did a nearly identical kayak trip along the same coast five years ago with my K-3. It performed flawlessly. I used the same lens for both trips, the DA 18-135mm WR. Based on Pentax marketing I believed I was using the camera and lens well within their design limits. Pentax touts its weather resistant sealing as an important feature of its cameras and lenses.

After PCR said the camera could not be repaired, it referred the camera to Ricoh at my request as a warranty claim. PCR never sent me written documentation about the issues. Allow me to also say that the Ricoh company rep I spoke with on the phone about all of this was always polite, professional and respectful. He has a difficult job and I don’t think he could have done it any better.

The company rep and I spoke twice on the phone. The first call was to ask in detail about what happened. The second was to deliver the news that Ricoh would not repair or replace the camera.

The second call highlights what in my opinion is an apparent inconsistency between some of Pentax’s marketing and the camera’s warranty. The customer rep read me a lengthy, and clearly carefully worded statement about Ricoh’s decision to deny my claim. Because the statement was lengthy and detailed I asked him to email it to me. He said he’d have to ask his boss first. I received this email response: “As we discussed on the phone, I asked if it would be possible to provide you with a written statement they indicated that the repair estimate from PCR is a written statement indicating that the camera is water damaged and beyond economical repair.” In other words Pentax decided not to provide me with a written explanation for why it refused to replace the camera.

As mentioned, I never received a written statement from Precision Camera Repair.

Some of the reasons given in the statement read to me on the phone did not make sense to me, which is one reason why I wanted to see them in print in order to make sure I understood them correctly. Understandably, the company rep could not elaborate on what he was told to read to me.

I am going to paraphrase here from parts of that statement. I believe I have the core of these statements from Ricoh correct.

The camera can not have failed because Pentax has not received any other complaints about cameras from that lot number.
My questions about this:
How many cameras are in the lot?
How many have been sold and how many are still “on the shelf” and therefore not in use and subject to real-world conditions?
A camera in that lot could have the same flaw(s) but never have gotten wet, so the flaw hasn’t been revealed.
Similarly, without knowing what every camera that has been sold has been subjected to, how is it possible to know that how many cameras have been subject to water without any issue?
This does not take into account normal manufacturing tolerances and the possibility, however rare, that one camera that didn’t meet standards got through.
In the event that Ricoh does get reports of similar problems from other K-3 III owners, will it revisit my case?

The fact the water damaged the camera beyond repair is proof it was abused, violating the terms of the warranty.
My opinion about this:
This is circular logic: If the camera failed, it has to be your fault because the fact the camera failed is proof you abused it.

The Pentax warranty (excerpt below**) shows that Ricoh is adhering to the wording of that document. And the company does have every right to protect its interests. But it feels to me this is inconsistent with the company’s marketing. Google “Pentax water sealing gif” and among the images you’ll find is a K-7 with the same lens that I used being sprayed with water along with other similar images. Certainly the K-3 III is a more robust camera than the K-7. The conditions that caused my camera to fail were nowhere near those depicted in those images.

What will I do next? I’m not sure. I received my very first Pentax as a high school graduation gift from my parents in 1978. I thoroughly enjoy using Pentax equipment. Changing systems is an expensive pain. Shelling out another $2,000 for another K-3 III isn’t ideal either. My original k-3 is still a workhorse so I will continue using that while I decide what to do next.

If you’ve gotten to this point in my overly-long missive, thank you. I hope you find my experience in this instance of some value.


**Additional notes:
In a Q&A section on “Performance for the environment” Pentax says:
“Yes. There are sealing components used in the dials, buttons, joints of the camera, making it both dust-proof and water-resistant, and anticipating use in cold locations, PENTAX has subjected the K-3 Mark III to exacting environmental tests at temperatures as low as –10°C.”

From the Pentax press release on March 30, 2021: (italics added)
“The camera's compact, rugged body is dustproof and weather resistant, making it suitable for use in the most extreme environmental conditions.”

The warranty says:
“This warranty does not cover finishes or batteries, nor does it cover damages resulting from accident, misuse, abuse, dirt, water, battery leakage, tampering, servicing performed or attempted by unauthorized service agencies.”

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09-27-2021, 08:01 AM - 3 Likes   #2
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I certainly would NOT let Ricoh/Pentax get away with this !

I'm not sure whether this would help but I would (if I were in your boots --- and I did have similar issues in the past with a K5) continue bombarding them with repeated emails/telephone calls/ etc, on a regular basis - weekly would be a good sequence - until they start responding in a more positive manner.
Have you sent them those "gif" images? If not, do so to show them that they have to abide by their own rules (their own proofs that their cameras ARE weather resistant as shown in the pictures).
This to me is false advertising, even for ONE camera. As you said, who knows how many K3III's are out there with a similar problem but have not been reported because they simply haven't been water sprayed yet?

So, my opinion, keep on harassing them directly AND with the Pentax/Ricoh rep.!!

Best of luck.
09-27-2021, 08:03 AM   #3
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The warranty clearly states water damage is not covered. Ricoh's literature also states the the weather sealing is not to any standard other than their own. I also recall there being a list of circumstances under which the sealing can be compromised e.g. driven water from surf, heavy rain etc.- basically water driven with enough force to get past the seals.

Your best recourse is to seek help from a Consumer Protection agency or other legal help.

As for advertising one should always view with a skeptical eye. The toy industry is regulated in that the products can't be represented as doing things they are not capable of. For instance a super hero action figure can't be shown flying complicated maneuvers on it's own but can be shown being held by a kid pretending that the figure is zooming in loops. I don't know if the consumer electronics are held to such standards, doubtful considering the promos.
09-27-2021, 08:04 AM - 2 Likes   #4
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If what you've stated is reasonably accurate, then this is disappointing. Not unexpected - Pentax customer support strikes me as nearly useless - but disappointing. I feel for your situation, and am doubtful I would be as measured in describing it as you have been.

None of the images you posted show a K-3 III, but certainly the point is well-taken that Pentax cameras have a reputation for being rugged and durable and able to handle incidental contact with water during one's adventures.

I know several kayakers online who swear by their Olympus gear. Olympus (OM now) actually does apply the IPX1 label on some of their equipment, which is a measly rating but at least it's something. It's hard to recommend Oly/OM though given how tenuous their situation is.

If you have any social media accounts, it might be worthwhile posting your experience to Ricoh-related accounts. Perhaps they would reach out to you in an attempt to provide satisfaction.

09-27-2021, 08:08 AM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by tcwilson Quote
. . . After PCR said the camera could not be repaired, it referred the camera to Ricoh at my request as a warranty claim. PCR never sent me written documentation about the issues.

. . . As mentioned, I never received a written statement from Precision Camera Repair.
. . .
The Pentax warranty (excerpt below**) shows that Ricoh is adhering to the wording of that document. . . But it feels to me this is inconsistent with the company’s marketing. . . .

The warranty says:
“This warranty does not cover finishes or batteries, nor does it cover damages resulting from accident, misuse, abuse, dirt, water, battery leakage, tampering, servicing performed or attempted by unauthorized service agencies.”
sorry to hear about your experience

IMHO, you appear to be SOL [ simply out of luck ]

[ I've been admitted to practice law since 1982, but I am not offering specific legal advice, just a WAG ]

however

I suggest you contact Precision , ask to speak to a supervisor and explain why you need a written response to your request for warranty under repair

if you get it, try resubmitting to Ricoh USA

I agree you have nothing to lose to keep after Ricoh

the gif are not relevant, they are advertising " fluff " and have no legal significance

good luck and if you don't mind, please keep us posted as to any progress
09-27-2021, 08:40 AM - 2 Likes   #6
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They always get you with the fine print.
09-27-2021, 08:47 AM   #7
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Here in the UK our Consumer laws start with the retailer, not the manufacturer. I'd check your Consumer law and follow it to the letter.

Also, if you bought the camera using a credit card the card company may also offer some sort of redress.

As a consumer you have a reasonable belief that the product will perform as advertised. You are not expected or required to be a product expert.

If you follow the avenues open to you, which probably includes making a claim via the Court, the cost of defence and threatened loss of reputation if the case attracts publicity (it will, won't it? it's what social media and Consumer Rights groups are for) may quickly result in a 'good will' gesture on the part of the retailer and/or Ricoh.


Last edited by JohnX; 09-27-2021 at 08:54 AM.
09-27-2021, 08:54 AM   #8
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You know from where the water entered?
09-27-2021, 09:04 AM - 1 Like   #9
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I don’t think Pentax has ever claimed their cameras are more than splash proof. They are certainly not built to a waterproof standard.

Unfortunately, water damage does classify as user abuse. There is nothing circular about that argument.

Your best bet will probably be to put in a claim with your insurance company. You might be able to badger Ricoh into a replacement, but I bet the process will be rather toxic.
09-27-2021, 09:08 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by tcwilson Quote
while on vacation my K-3 III got wet
Sorry to hear of your upsetting situation. It's never a good thing when a camera fails, especially for someone who has had years of good experience with a brand.

Pentax gear has a reputation for being rugged. There are lots of anecdotes of Pentax users who have continued to shoot in inclement weather while users of other brands have run to take cover. Regrettably, there also have been accounts of Pentax cameras that have failed owing to water damage in a variety of conditions.

@tcwilson, I think it would be informative if you could describe here the conditions under which your camera got wet. Was it drenched, or lightly damp? Did it sit in a pool of water? Was it used in an extended heavy downpour? For how long was it exposed to water? Did it die immediately, or after a certain period?

The lens is a key element in a weather-resistant system. I wonder whether the seals of your DA 18-135 have worn over time, or the mount seal was compromised by a foreign particle or grime. Did you get any sense from Ricoh Imaging how the moisture entered the camera?

While I'm not defending Ricoh Imaging, is it possible that their marketing implications for moisture-resistance apply to a limited warranty period for a lens? In other words, mounting a well-used lens on a relatively new camera may not necessarily meet the implied performance.

- Craig

Last edited by c.a.m; 09-27-2021 at 03:19 PM.
09-27-2021, 09:10 AM   #11
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tcwilson,
You said " It did get wet." - but no explanation of how or to what degree; please elaborate. Was it raining, wind spray, splash, or ? How long was it between the time the camera got wet and it ceased to function?
"Corrosion" did not happen immediately; did you or how did you attempt to dry the camera after getting wet?

You have my sympathy, but getting a camera "wet" is never good; and especially if the warranty specifically states damage from "water" is not covered.
I would not assume that a K3iii is more "robust" than your old K-7; for sure it is more complicated and likely has more points of entry for water into its body.
It is not impossible that it is the lens sealing that has deteriorated in the last 5 years and thus could have been the source of water intrusion.

For sure you are owed a written estimate; and one with more information on the problem "corrosion";
09-27-2021, 09:17 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by tcwilson Quote
The conditions were ideal, the camera was kept in a boat bag between shots. It did get wet. It was never submerged.
How could the camera get wet if it was in a boat bag?

The main problem in life situations with other people is the words we say to people builds up images in their mind which may or may no match the reality. In presence of incomplete information, people just make up assumptions, right or wrong doesn't matter because we can't control other people's mind except by carefully choosing the words we use. If I was a Ricoh staff and someone ask for camera repair or replacement under warranty after using the camera on a kayak, the first thing that comes to my mind is that the camera was dropped in water. Whether this is true or not that the camera fell into water , doesn't matter, it's what the Ricoh staff think when they make a decision that matters. Once you told Ricoh that you were on a kayak with the camera it was too late. Sometimes, in similar situation as yours I've been totally honest and despite my honesty I got screwed and the bad guys won!

Last edited by biz-engineer; 09-27-2021 at 09:27 AM.
09-27-2021, 09:26 AM   #13
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Playing devils advocate here but for such a long post you spend a very short time actually describing the nature of the getting wet. You state that it did get wet but wasn’t submerged. That’s not the kind of statement I would make if my camera had just been rained on that sounds different. So what actually happened? Before I get all up in arms about Pentax I would like to know what I am getting mad about.
09-27-2021, 09:28 AM - 2 Likes   #14
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If you bought the camera with a credit card it may be covered by the CC company warranty. Contact them.
09-27-2021, 09:34 AM   #15
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Wow that is a total bummer ! Two grand down the drain(no pun intended). I never fell for those Pentax commercials where someone is literally pouring water over the camera, or dunking the camera into muddy water. Not that the camera can't take that type of abuse, the question is for how long ? I recently purchased a new bag for my Pentax gear and made sure it was water-proof...
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