Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sending a lens off to be repaired--a first for me

Today, I'm sending my Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8 lens to be repaired.  It has an ugly lens flare, even with the lens hood in place and the sun out of the frame as you can see.

It seems odd for the most (at the time, before the Panasonic/Leica 42.5mm f/1.2) expensive (US$1499.99) micro Four-Thirds lens to have such a flaw--or to be "Made in China".  In fact, this is my first lens repair ever, which goes all the way back to the late 1970s.  Truth be told, my Olympus SHG ZD 35-100mm f/2.0 was a refurbished lens, which means that there was some problem that was repaired but it is practically flawless since the refurbishment, even after my E-5, the 35-100mm f/2.0 lens, and flash fell from a seat to the pool deck during a swim meet I was photographing.

Even before I bought the GH3 and 35-100mm f/2.8 lens, I saw the review on LensTip, citing the flare problem.  I hoped that it was an anomaly, and I bought anyway.  Later, I got the feeling that other reviewers held back.

I already have a love-hate relationship with it.  Perhaps, the repair will change all that.  Plenty of people rave about the lens, so I hope that I've been missing something with this certain unit.  After I got the lens, I wasn't so eager to buy the 12-35mm f/2.8 lens, even though it would have filled a need since I have nothing so wide as 12mm.

This leaves me with the rather slow Panasonic 45-200mm f/4.0-5.6.  It won't even be pushed to be automatically focused in low light, so I suspect the Olympus MMF-3 adapter and my various Four-Thirds lenses will have to do or I'll just pull out the E-5 or E-1.  The E-1 and the ZD 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 are such a good combination, even without IS of any kind.

GH3, MMF-3, and Leica 25mm f/1.4

Update 2014.02.13: I thought several times that I might go buy a micro Four-Thirds lens to fill the gap, but in the end, I just concentrated on getting regular shopping done before the roads froze again.  I didn't want to fall on my ice.  That Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 has been pulling at my wallet ever since I tried pre-production samples, along with the 12mm f/2.0.  I even thought about the Olympus 60mm macro while it was on sale, but the current Four-Thirds 50mm f/2.0 macro is plenty for me since I really haven't done any macro photography.

Update 2014.02.16: It arrived on the 14th, before 10:30 a.m.  I'm wondering how long it will take for them to handle it.  I'm hopeful that it will come back a much better lens than it was.  It really wasn't worth the money I paid for it.  It seemed worth about half of the price for the optical quality I got.

Update 2014.02.22: Panasonic still hasn't acknowledged it, even though UPS said that it was delivered over a week ago.  I'm wondering if this is some sort of game they play to extract a payment, rather than provide warranty service, since it's close to the edge.

Update 2014.02.24: I'm on my fifth call this hour to the service center to understand what's happening.  They do not answer and the automated system seems to become more frail each time, giving me dead air instead of automated rubbish.  As these toll-free numbers cost them more than a regular call and don't cost me anything, I will remain on the line until ejected from their system.  I finally left a message, after they closed.  I guess once the machine isn't fighting for its life, it can do adequate work as a phone system.  Not only did I leave a voice message, but I sent an e-mail to the repair e-mail address: plus I sent a Tweet to the LumixPro people, and put the photo with the lens flare on Instagram while tagging Panasonic.  It's probably not enough.

I suspect I'll have to engage the camera store where I bought the lens in order to get anything done.   There are three other one star reviews on Yelp for the place.  It's incredible that this is Panasonic's level of service in the U.S.A.

Update 2014.02.25: Supposedly, everything is finished.  They were apparently readying it for shipment about the time I was calling.  I wonder if they saw my phone number, matched it to the lens, and took care of it by replacing it with an already refurbished lens.

We show your item arrived, but its been resolved. The item has shipped back to you

I don't know if that is a repair or replacement but either way, if it's working as well as the designers expected, I'll be happy that I didn't waste my money.

Update 2014.02.27: I have received my lens, not a replacement, just two weeks after I sent it to them.

According to Ruben Silva, there is no problem whatsoever.  He said that there were "finger prints and grease/dirt on lens front and rear glasses", even though I cleaned the lens before I sent it to them.  They think I treat a $1500 lens as though it was $15?  Incredible.  I'm guessing that if I sent it again, out of warranty, they'd find an expensive problem.

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