Sony still needs to mature

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My Sony Rant …

First of all let me start by saying I absolutely love my Sony A7II. It is a modern marvel of technology packed into a small camera body that yields incredible and amazing images.  Although almost every camera has room for improvement, I can honestly say I think my A7II will suffice and meet my needs for the foreseeable future without the urge to upgrade.  I have also owned the original A7, A7R and A7S. As you may have guessed by now, I am a bit of a Sony fan boy to some extent and don’t try to hide it. Just throw a Zeiss lens on the camera and you are sailing with freedom and joy you cannot get from the monster DSLR’s.

As most can images, it’s not all roses and sunshine. Sony has come a long way in just a few years with the development of cameras and technology the competition has failed to capitalize on. So much so that Leica will be introducing a new camera very soon that will be a competitor to the RX1. After seeing that camera first hand it is clear that Sony has forced the competition to venture into unknown territory and mimic what Sony has been doing for years.  Just wait till you see it. However, having said that, Sony has some serious gaps in their support and customer service which needs to mature to a professional level.

When I purchased my A7II back in January directly online from Sony, I was in camera heaven.  However, nothing can deflate your spirits like a broken camera and shortly after my purchase, with less than 500 clicks on the camera, I noticed a problem.  The front dial was pretty much dead. It would not change the values for aperture on any lens. Yes I tested, reset and reassigned dial functions. Any function the front dial had to perform it did not. As you can image, I was pretty bummed about this. But heck, the camera was just over a month old and still under warranty. So I called Sony, spoke to someone in the Philippines and managed to get a case open for repair.  I was told that Sony no longer repaired cameras and I had to send it to Precision Camera in Connecticut.  Well, this was strike one as far as I am concerned.  One facility that handles many different manufactures di d not give me the warm fuzzy feel I was looking for.  Needless to say, I sent them the camera via priority mail at my expense on March 11th. The Camera arrived, sat there for a few days before it was entered into the system and shipped back to me on March the 24th.  Communication was poor and no details on the repair were provided. However the camera did arrive in working order.

Fast forward to May and guess what, turned on the A7II only to find the exact same problem I experienced before. The front dial was once again inoperable.  This time, I called Sony asking for a replacement camera rather than another repair since the camera is so new.  I was told that Sony’s policy is to repair the camera and not replace it.  Furthermore, having to deal with a generic customer support department that deals with all sorts of products is not very encouraging.  I asked for the case to be escalated to a manager and was told there is no process for such a request.  Instead, I was told a customer support agent would contact me within 48 hours.  As you can imagine, my confidence level in Sony customer support is dropping really fast.  As a longtime member of NPS (Nikon Professional Services) I have been spoiled with the dedicated level of support and attention given to an NPS member.

Although the Big names like Nikon and Canon could learn a thing or two about innovation from Sony. It is also clear that Sony can learn a thing or two about customer service from Nikon or Canon.  Attending to the customer needs and getting a problem fixed the first time goes a long way in the industry.

At this time I continue to use the Sony cameras with great joy and results. I also know that until Sony matures in customer service,  a failure can lead to unnecessary inconveniences for the photographer.

On the plus sides, most of the gear is inexpensive and available in many stores which make for easy and quick temporary replacement if desperately needed.


Update 5/21/2015

4 days later, I finally received a call from Sony regarding the issue with the A7II. The customer service representative informed me that they had no cameras in the warehouse to replace my defective A72. Instead, they offered a full refund in the form of a check which would take up to 4 weeks for me to receive. At this point, I have returned the camera to Sony and am waiting for the refund check. In the meantime, I am using a friends A7II until my check comes in which I will apply towards the purchase of a replacement body.

20 Comments on Sony still needs to mature

  1. I had a similar issue whereby I received the wrong lens hood three times! One time I talked to someone with broken english and I swear I could hear chickens in the background. Anyway, on the third phone call they finally acknowledged there was a misprint in their parts manual. Two months after my ordeal they finally sent me the correct lens hood but they continued to send me the wrong lens pouch.

    The worst part of Sony customer service, and I use the term loosely, is they seem to be too proud to improve and they actually believe their customer service is fine the way it is. Personally, I think its a cultural issue combined with ineptitude.

  2. With fresh salmon selling for $44 a pound today, your A7II costs about the same as 38 lbs of salmon. How long would you expect 38 lbs of salmon to last in your house? A month?
    Seriously: modern cameras are disposable, that’s what SONY thinks. $1800 (the price of an A7II) was the price of the enthusiasts compact Powershot G1 on introduction in 2000. My 15 year old G1 still makes nice pictures. The A7II isn’t better made than that camera. We are being fooled by the vendors into thinking that these new cameras will make better pictures – they won’t. We are just supposed to keep buying the upgrades each year. They want you to have to buy a new camera every six months. These are not Pro cameras. They are fragile, leak water and dust, and the controls are delicate, designed for small light fingers, and they need to be guarded against rough treatment. If you drop one even gently, something is going to go out of specification. They are no better built than old compact cameras. I have a bunch of SONY cameras – the 3N stopped recognizing its kit lens within a week – and it sits on the shelf as a reminder of how far cameras have fallen in quality since 2000. My M6 is as strong as ever – now where can I get some old Kodachrome processed?
    Next time, buy a couple of obsolete cameras that were at one time “camera of the year.” They will be cheap because people are convinced that after the introduction of the new model, the older cameras are junk. Your pictures will be just asa good.
    All this technology such as OIS and wobbly sensors actually detract from image IQ. They are put in for old photographers who can’t focus the camera and can’t hold it still anymore , you young people don’t need that stuff – I’m 72 and I don’t need it. There are dozens of old camera bodies that will take Leica lenses, Zeiss lenses etc. so there’s no excuse. You bought 38 lbs of Salmon, don’t expect to return some of it when it goes bad!

      • I guess my comment was a bit too subtle. The point is that today you can buy two brand new Nex7 camera (with lens) for less than $1,000 (that would be 70% below the original cost.). And the Nex7 is a great 24MP camera, which was camera of the year in 2012. DXOlabs numbers may be better for the A7II but this is only at base ISO. DR, and resolution drops off with increasing ISO, as you know. At ISO 3200 I bet you can’t see a difference. And the APSC enables you to get the reach with better DOF because the FL is shorter for a given FOV as it would be with APSC. BTW detail is better when photosites are packed tighter, as they are on the APSC sensor. If you really want to get tight shots for stage work, the Pentax QS-1 with a Leica M/R f2.0 or f2.8 90mm lens would be a blast with a FOV of 450mm and the DOF of a 90mm lens.

        I wasn’t suggesting that the G1 was any good for stage work, but with its 7mm lens the DOF is way better than you can get on the A7II, so for landscapes it is a useful tool. In addition the G1 captures twice the colors of the A7II (G1 has four color complementary color sensor which captures twice the bandwidth of the RGB sensor in the A7II,) so colors especially yellow are much more vibrant.

        • All good points but none of them apply to my style of shooting. Sony isn’t trying to fool anyone, unless you are gullible enough to think you need an a7II when you would be better suited with something else. I don’t think it is the manufacturer’s obligation to inform consumers on what camera is the right one for them. They are simply marketing a full frame camera for photographers that want or need that look.

          I’ve shot all sizes of sensors and have owned the NEX 7 – great camera indeed – but at the end of the day, I know what I want my images to look like and I lean more heavily to shallow DOF for low light work than the deep DOF of a landscape photographer.

          Will my a7II make better photos than my old A900? Sometimes yes, sometimes no – depends on the situation and light conditions. But do I enjoy my a7II more than the A900? I think do, and I am a big fan of the compact and flexible nature of the system. It isn’t right for some but it works great for me.

          • I see from SONY’s web site that the A7r has been dropped and the last that were in stock sold for $199. I just missed the boat. Placed an order for the $199 A7r and today SONY cancelled the order saying that there no more available.

  3. You got off lightly. I had an uncentered SAL18-135 lens that I sent to be repaired under warranty, and when it came back it was a disaster, i.e. the problem went from a small one to the lens being completely unusable. Sony customer service is horrible: 1) difficult to get through to a rep, 2) reps don’t know anything about cameras, 3) hard to escalate to someone who knows something. The only person I could get results out of was the secretary to the president of Sony USA. All electronics gear goes across the border to a maquiladora from Laredo. I don’t have a problem with that per se, but Sony tries to hide the fact from you. The fact that that lens came back to me in the condition it did erased any confidence I had in their technical skills. What in the heck kind of testing protocols would allow a lens to go out the door like that?

    At that point I demanded a new factory lens and finally got one out of the secretary to the president, but, wouldn’t you know, the focus was off on the new factory lens at all focal lengths and apertures. When I called the secretary back and asked for another copy, she treated me like a crank and I had to fight like hell to have her bring a technician in to look at sample photos because she didn’t even know how to look at a photo at 100% resolution or at a “pixel level” meant — as if I was talking about some advanced technical procedure! Finally, some engineer at Sony backed me up and they sent me a new lens, but no apologies for the shabby treatment.

    I still might buy Sony, simply because their hardware is so good, but I’ll always buy from B&H and return anything that doesn’t work for a full refund no questions asked because I’m never going to deal with Sony customer service again. The whole ordeal took 3 or 4 months, and it was my primary lens.

  4. Sad to read this but nikon is nothing better in service. Had the Dust Problem on my D600 . I have sent the cam in and wrote them that nikon knows about the dust problem and that they could just replace it with a d610 instead i have to send it in 3 times. The only response was a call from the nikon service trying to convince me there never was no dust problem and argued with me. Then the replaced the shutter and put some tape in the cam.

    Waited for 1 month! The cam came back and had more dust spots then before and also could see small hair in the viewfinder!

    Ive sent the d600 for second time with a letter what they did to my cam. No one even cared about it, again it came back with same issue.

    In the end i sold the damn d600 i was so happy i got rid of it. Then i bought a sony a7II and it just works. No dust issue or any other problem.

    My conclusion Nikon Service is huge shit nothing better than you have described.

    • Yes, I think that if you are at the consumer level (not enrolled in the pro service programs) this level of service is par for the industry. I had a similar experience with Fuji on a lens that was under warranty but they wanted me to pay – claiming it had been dropped, even though there wasn’t a scratch or dent on the lens.

      With Sony I have had mixed experiences, one so-so and one that was actually outstanding. They turned around my 55/1.8 in just a couple of days, good as new.

  5. Hey Jorge . . .

    Thanks for posting your experiences with Sony. I’ve been considering coming over to Sony (maybe the A6000 or new A6xxx/A7xxx that’s supposed to be announced soon) but may wait a bit and see if Sony service improves. Still love the D3s.

  6. Update 5/21/2015

    4 days later, I finally received a call from Sony regarding the issue with the A7II. The customer service representative informed me that they had no cameras in the warehouse to replace my defective A72. Instead, they offered a full refund in the form of a check which would take up to 4 weeks for me to receive. At this point, I have returned the camera to Sony and am waiting for the refund check. In the meantime, I am using a friends A7II until my check comes in which I will apply towards the purchase of a replacement body.

  7. Follow you all the way, JT! Got my first NEX-7 Easter 2012, the second summer 2013, my A7r December 2013, which is a fantastic camera in spite of the shutter lag – a completely hopeless detail which makes it unusable for streetshooting, got my A7II 2 – 3 months ago – haven’t really had time to test it properly yet, but . . just holding the camera in your hand tells you it is a giant step forward compared to earlier models. Although I’ve been a cinematographer for close to sixty years, I’m today not sufficiently into moving pictures to go for the A7s, I’m fairly convinced that the S-log 2, and last but not least the fantastic VR will make me 100% satisfied with the A7II for both purposes; still & video.

  8. Hello Jorge: Coincidentally earlier today I was replying to a Steve Huff post, paralleling your concern. Was heavy into Canon, now 80% Leica, 20% Canon, with my intent to have Sony completely replace the DSLR at some point soon. I just renewed my CPS membership for another year because although Canon has been lagging, they have the great backend infrastructure that all professional shooters depend on. My Leica is too quirky to be my main camera and when I had a 75 go down, the lens was out for warranty repairs for 2 months. Unacceptable. I hope that when I do buy into the Sony system, they develop the kind of commitment necessary to cater to professionals that live & die by their equipment.

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