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07-21-2010, 11:08 AM   #1
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Pentax K-7 Quality Control

I recently went through three Pentax K-7 cameras due to shoddy workmanship. This was totally unexpected as I always associated the Pentax brand with quality stuff. Hopefully my experience is the exception and not the rule.

All three cameras were purchased from Amazon. I was a little wary of purchasing a high dollar item like this from them. However, according to the Pentax website, they are an authorized dealer. The first camera I received was largely flawless except for a dead pixel on the LCD display. This was hardly a big deal. In fact, the Pentax manual clearly states that one or more dead or hot pixels is considered a normal manufacturing defect. I probably should have kept this camera but decided to exchange it for another one with the hope I would receive a more perfect unit.

Camera #2 arrived about a week later. At first glance it looked like a keeper. That is, until I took a picture. It seemed as though the focus points were dimmer than the ones on my K10D. I whipped out my K10D and, to my dismay, they were in fact less bright on the K-7. Upon close inspection the focus points weren't uniformly illuminated. That is, they were brighter towards the bottom. In any event, I promptly returned the camera and exchanged it for another.

Camera #3 also arrived about a week later. I elected to go with Amazon's free shipping option. (Amazon's return policy is terrific, BTW. Assuming they are the reseller.) This camera turned out to be the most defective of the bunch. It had the same dimly lit focus points and dust on the focus screen. Regarding the latter problem, I inspected each camera right out of the box for focus screen dust. Completely disgusted at this point, I returned the camera for a full refund.

My wife and I spent last weekend in NYC to see a Broadway concert. One of my missions on this trip was to visit the B&H superstore. Holy crap, that place is insane!!! Anyway, while we were there I checked out their demo K-7 to see if it had the same focus point issue I experienced with the other K-7s. I was beginning to wonder if the issue was a characteristic of the camera and not an issue at all. To my surprise, the focus points on the sample at B&H looked just like the ones on my K10D: bright and uniformly lit.

I'm really disappointed with the quality control of this camera. Granted, they are fairly minor issues. And they didn't affect overall picture quality. Having said that, the K-7 is a flagship model and its build quality should be in line with its status in the Pentax lineup.

Another minor issue but worth mentioning. The position of the flash button seems to be all over the place with these cameras. Take a look at these images:

Here the icon on the flash button is angled:




In this picture the icon is straight:




What gives, Pentax? How many of these am I going to have to go through before I get a good one?


Last edited by Adam; 08-26-2010 at 07:31 AM.
07-21-2010, 11:34 AM   #2
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Sounds to me like it's nothing to do with shoddy workmanship, but rather the fact that you've not been hands-on with the camera first.

By your own admission, there was nothing wrong with the first camera. (Stuck pixels happen with every manufacturer, and none that I know of considers a single stuck pixel to be a defect.)

By your description, there was nothing wrong with the second camera, either. The AF points are not terribly brightly or evenly illuminated on any K-7 I've tested. You've confirmed that yourself because your last two cameras were identical -- and most likely you'd have seen the same thing with the first one were you not obsessing over a pixel. It's more likely that the difference you perceived at B&H was down to environmental conditions making the points easier to see.

Your third camera again had no problem other than some dust that could've been easily cleaned off -- and there's every chance you received a unit somebody else like you had returned. (It's not supposed to happen, but it sometimes does.) Even if it came from the factory, it's in an easily cleaned location -- I've seen new cameras from other brands arriving with dust sealed into places that can't be cleaned by the end user.

Your expectations are way too high, and you've almost certainly just returned three cameras with nothing wrong with them, meaning they now have to be sold as refurbs with reduced prices. You're the reason the rest of us have to overpay for our new products. Well done!
07-21-2010, 11:37 AM   #3
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Surprised you didn't take the chance buying from B&H since you were there already. As to the flash button, maybe it can be fully rotated (like the set button on my 40D)?
07-21-2010, 11:43 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by wlachan Quote
Surprised you didn't take the chance buying from B&H since you were there already. As to the flash button, maybe it can be fully rotated (like the set button on my 40D)?
B&H wanted $100 more for the K-7 on Sunday as compared to Amazon.

07-21-2010, 11:48 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by wlachan Quote
Surprised you didn't take the chance buying from B&H since you were there already. As to the flash button, maybe it can be fully rotated (like the set button on my 40D)?
The crooked flash button certainly isn't a deal breaker. It's just indicative of sloppy quality control. Perhaps, as the first responder commented, I am expecting too much at this price point.

I don't know, for me, the K-7 is a lot of money. I was expecting the same level of assembly quality as my K10D and didn't get it.
07-21-2010, 11:50 AM   #6
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I'm sure he'd have found a mote of dust on a button, or a screen-printed logo that had a shockingly large fleck of paint missing, just as soon as it got home.

Some people simply have completely unrealistic expectations for a new product, and/or buyer's remorse. A camera is a tool. It shoots pictures. If it does so properly, all the rest of this is utter nonsense. I mean, really -- a button that can rotate ruins your photographic experience? If one looks hard enough at any product they'll find flaws like this, even products aimed at pros.

Even if the miracle happens, and a perfect camera is received, what happens if in six weeks a stuck pixel appears. Does it then ruin your photographic experience and cause you to sell the camera, or do you put it down to bad luck given the return period's over? Obviously, the latter. If it's not worth the money out of your own pocket to sell the camera and buy another, it shouldn't be worth the money out of everybody else's pockets to return it for a refund.

Were I the retailer in question, I'd likely have banned him after the second return of an identical high-ticket item, unless a real, significant fault could be demonstrated. There's realistically no way I'm going to be making any money out of him with a return rate like this.
07-21-2010, 11:51 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by krebsy97 Quote
B&H wanted $100 more for the K-7 on Sunday as compared to Amazon.
So you want perfection, but you're only prepared to pay bottom dollar for it? Where's the logic in that?
07-21-2010, 11:52 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by krebsy97 Quote
I don't know, for me, the K-7 is a lot of money. I was expecting the same level of assembly quality as my K10D and didn't get it.
And there it is. The dictionary (well, Wikipedia) definition of buyer's remorse. You've spent more than you can afford, you feel guilty, therefore you obsess over every detail in a search for something you can possibly consider to be wrong, and return the product. Then when it's gone, you want it back because you actually really liked it.

07-21-2010, 11:55 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by knoxploration Quote
I'm sure he'd have found a mote of dust on a button, or a screen-printed logo that had a shockingly large fleck of paint missing, just as soon as it got home.

Some people simply have completely unrealistic expectations for a new product, and/or buyer's remorse. A camera is a tool. It shoots pictures. If it does so properly, all the rest of this is utter nonsense. I mean, really -- a button that can rotate ruins your photographic experience? If one looks hard enough at any product they'll find flaws like this, even products aimed at pros.

Even if the miracle happens, and a perfect camera is received, what happens if in six weeks a stuck pixel appears. Does it then ruin your photographic experience and cause you to sell the camera, or do you put it down to bad luck given the return period's over? Obviously, the latter. If it's not worth the money out of your own pocket to sell the camera and buy another, it shouldn't be worth the money out of everybody else's pockets to return it for a refund.

Were I the retailer in question, I'd likely have banned him after the second return of an identical high-ticket item, unless a real, significant fault could be demonstrated. There's realistically no way I'm going to be making any money out of him with a return rate like this.
I would definitely say that dim AF points in the VF are a significant "fault" (defect).

Blacklisting consumers for returns is against the law in most states and provinces.

The "return rate" is Pentax's problem. They get dinged as well for every re-stock due to warranty. Resellers get to claim warranty defects as well.
07-21-2010, 12:05 PM - 1 Like   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aristophanes Quote
I would definitely say that dim AF points in the VF are a significant "fault" (defect).
Depends on the definition of dim, and whether every camera is basically identical. (We have a sample size of three here, of which two are identical, and one is claimed to be different, but was examined in a store at a totally different locale, not a real-world shooting location).

Dim AF points are not a significant defect if they're present on every camera (or even if they're present on most cameras). They don't prevent you using the product, and don't prevent you knowing which AF points were illuminated. They're just slightly less pretty. (I know, my own are somewhat dim and uneven, and I've not hit a single situation where I had difficulty seeing them.)

QuoteOriginally posted by Aristophanes Quote
Blacklisting consumers for returns is against the law in most states and provinces.
I wouldn't be surprised -- there are plenty of pointless laws on the books -- but I've not heard of this myself. Why would that be the case, and do you have a citation? If you've refunded the consumer fully, what possible reason is there for legally requiring you to continue to do business with a consumer who repeatedly returns products that aren't defective? I can see it maybe vaguely making sense if you're the sole distributor for a product (or type of product), but not when there are dozens or hundreds of retailers to choose from for the very same product, and tens or hundreds of thousands carrying near-identical competing products.

QuoteQuote:
The "return rate" is Pentax's problem. They get dinged as well for every re-stock due to warranty. Resellers get to claim warranty defects as well.
I didn't say it was the retailer who suffered. It's not. It is the end user who suffers. Where do you think Pentax's money comes from? Us, buying their products and services. If people return products that aren't defective (and yes, this is a pet peeve of mine -- obsessive returns, or even people ordering products just to try them out and then send them back), that makes the products more expensive for the rest of us. Pentax still isn't allowed to sell those perfect cameras as new again, they have to be sold as refurbs, meaning not only the loss of money in sending the product to the retailer, then the consumer, then back all the way again and refunding them, but also means the product itself can no longer be sold at full price. A significant chunk of its cost (and probably most if not all of the profit from it) has been flushed down the toilet.
07-21-2010, 12:06 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by krebsy97 Quote
The crooked flash button certainly isn't a deal breaker. It's just indicative of sloppy quality control. Perhaps, as the first responder commented, I am expecting too much at this price point.

I don't know, for me, the K-7 is a lot of money. I was expecting the same level of assembly quality as my K10D and didn't get it.
Been a Pentax user for 20 years and bought mostly new, I too feel Pentax QC is going downhill since late 90's, and even worse in the digital era. I have had my share of sloppy QC experience. Compared to any other DCs and the Canon EOS system that I have purchased in recent years, brand new Pentax cameras & lenses looked "mint" rather than brand new OOB. My 40D and all EF lenses were absolutely perfect and dust free inside out when they came out of the boxes, just like many other products I purchased in the past. Pentax on the other-hand, could be scratched, finger printed, cleaning smear, dust inside, wracked aperture etc. Practically speaking, most of them are fine. But then again, what made Japanese products famous in the 80's was very tight QC, which Pentax seem to depart in recent years.

Last edited by wlachan; 07-21-2010 at 12:15 PM.
07-21-2010, 12:13 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aristophanes Quote
I would definitely say that dim AF points in the VF are a significant "fault" (defect).

Blacklisting consumers for returns is against the law in most states and provinces.

The "return rate" is Pentax's problem. They get dinged as well for every re-stock due to warranty. Resellers get to claim warranty defects as well.

We (sellers) can refuse service to anyone, especially repeat returners. And, not all returns from consumers get a warranty from the manufacturer because... it's not a defect - such as a round button not being perfectly aligned.
07-21-2010, 12:15 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by wlachan Quote
Been a Pentax user for 20 years and bought mostly new, I too feel Pentax QC is going downhill since late 90's, and even worse in the digital era. I have had my share of sloppy QC experience. Compared to any other DCs and the Canon EOS system that I have purchased in recent years, brand new Pentax cameras & lenses looked "mint" rather than brand new OOB. My 40D and all EF lenses were absolutely perfect and dust free inside out when they came out of the boxes, just like many other products I purchased in the past. Pentax on the otherhand, could be scratched, finger printed, cleaning smear, dust inside etc. Practically speaking, most of them are fine. But then again, what made Japanese products famous in the 80's was very tight QC, which Pentax seem to depart in recent years.
If there are finger prints, you've almost certainly received a refurb. It's routine practice for assembly / packaging workers to wear gloves, and that's not something that's going to be forgotten.
07-21-2010, 12:25 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by knoxploration Quote
If there are finger prints, you've almost certainly received a refurb. It's routine practice for assembly / packaging workers to wear gloves, and that's not something that's going to be forgotten.
Not necessarily. The DA14 that I bought new last year had scratches and finger prints on the chrome mount and the front. It was returned for exchange for reason that I cannot remember now (but not for scratches or finger prints). The next one was fine but also scratched mount and finger prints. I could tell they weren't refurb. based on how the plastic bags looked. Both samples also had paint chips and scratches on other parts too but not the bodies. This is just one of the many examples I have experienced 1st hand. We have no idea what's going on in Pentax factories, but QC is not tight that's for sure.
07-21-2010, 12:36 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by wlachan Quote
Not necessarily. The DA14 that I bought new last year had scratches and finger prints on the chrome mount and the front. It was returned for exchange for reason that I cannot remember now (but not for scratches or finger prints). The next one was fine but also scratched mount and finger prints. I could tell they weren't refurb. based on how the plastic bags looked. Both samples also had paint chips and scratches on other parts too but not the bodies. This is just one of the many examples I have experienced 1st hand. We have no idea what's going on in Pentax factories, but QC is not tight that's for sure.
Sorry, but I'd sooner believe that the lenses were refurbs resealed in new bags, than I would that brand-new lenses had fingerprints, chips, and scratches. You're obviously free to believe whatever you like, but I don't for one second believe these were new products. Forget gloves preventing fingerprints, what do you think they do to cause paint chips at the factory -- play shuffleboard with the lenses before they pack them up?
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