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Adventures in Sony Repair Service


If you’ve read any of my blog, you may have noticed that I have had a lot of repair service from Sony.  My A900, My CZ 24-70 2.8 and now infamously, my A77 body has seen the Sony Repair Department here in Toronto.  Now to be Fair, all of these repairs have been handled through the hands of Henry’s camera store here, either in Scarborough, or Pickering.  Items are sent to a central processing in Henry’s to confirm the problem before being sent to Sony for repair.

The bad news with my A77 started the first week of use, when the Sync port popped out of the camera body when removing the sync cord.  It was immediately sent off for repair under warranty.  When it returned, I took it out for some macro shooting and realized in the process of it being repaired, the AF selector dial on the front of the camera was disconnected inside. (Indicated by the repair notice received on return).  I now got to use the camera for a couple of months before the Mic stopped working in Romania.  This time the repair went through quickly, only a couple of weeks, but when it returned it was worse than when I sent it out.  This time, out of the bubble wrap, at the counter, the LCD screen and AF were unresponsive, and did nothing.  It appeared to the staff, and to myself, that the camera was now even worse off than when it had been sent out.

So now I was sitting here with an A77 that had been sent for repair 3 times, and was going out for a 4th repair in 8 months; of which time I had only gotten to use the camera for a couple of months.  It was time to bypass Henry’s and contact Sony.  There’s nothing quite like holding a repair order that says “cleaned and tested” and a camera whose rear LCD screen is broken.  I felt like I had been the subject of a cruel joke.

Sony “quickly” escalated the situation to a service manager, and I received a call 1 week later after calling 3 times.  He offered a new camera body, however here was my predicament. I had purchased the extended warranty for the camera, covering it up to 5 years against defect.  Now with a new camera body, I would only have the camera warrantied for 2 years.  The solution was obvious, just transfer the warranty.  Now Henry’s could have done this, but the store manager in Scarborough was unwilling to do so.  Sony couldn’t be held to the warranty since they didn’t sell me the warranty.  My issue with Sony was their repair department had essentially broken the camera one me, and their service was terrible.  My issue with Henry’s was that the manager was unwilling to fix the situation well within his power.

Enter Henry’s head office.  Contact with a gentleman from Henry’s head office was via a BCC ‘d email to Sony.  The response was within 1 hour I got an email and a call.  The next day I was in the store with a brand new A77 and a transferred warranty.  Once again, Henry’s warranty has been stellar, and I have to applaud them on it.

Sony on the other hand has lost some of its grace from me.  The abismal repair service was not only shameful, but downright ridiculous.  It is with a sincere hope that the A77 I had was just a bad body, and that the new one will hold up well.  I am not thrilled by the idea of sending it in for repair in the future.  I am looking with fascination on the other camera manufacturers out there, and look forward to a split system in the future.

Thanks again Henry’s, you’ve proven to have some excellent staff and Service in Toronto.

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Visual Memory


Cell phones are everywhere today.  Everyone seems to have one.  I can’t imagine why a grade 6 child needs a cellphone, but some parent somewhere decided to give in and get them one.  Of the many functions on a cellphone, the one that I confess has been a point of ridicule in my life, is the pathetic excuse for a camera that has been plugged into my mobile communications device.  To me, a phone is a phone.  I don’t need the bells and whistles, particularly the ones that don’t work well.  It’s the classic paradigm of rather having one device that does one thing really well, than have one device that does nothing well.

You can imagine my thoughts when I opened a National Geographic camera guide and found an entire chapter dedicated to cell-phone photography.  “Are you serious?” I thought.  I have to admit however that since viewing the imperfections of my cell-phone camera as an artistic choice, I have had a lot more fun with it that I expected.  Probably the most useful aspects is as an aid to my hyper-visual memory.  I can create visual cues that trigger a part of my memory to recall and enhance an idea.

For instance, I am on the road a lot, traveling around the GTA to various photoshoots.  I see a lot of the city and its people.  Often times I see things that make me shake my head and say “What were you thinking?”

Other things that make you want to go back a find out what the story is.

Something creative that just speaks to you.

 

And other things that strike you as a great concept you want to shoot.

 

 

It’s the portability and the everpresence of my phone that makes it useful as a memory stimulus.  I doubt I’ll be printing anything from its little camera anytime soon, but it has become a useful contributor to my workflow, carrying inspiration and recording ideas rather than pixels.

-Josh-

 

Sony A77/A65 SLT Hands on Review


Just up, as promised, a hands on review on the Sony A77 and A65 SLt cameras. Click the image below or use the menu above to get to the review.

Firmware Updates for A65 and A77 SLT Cameras


Having picked up both the A65 and A77, I have been holding off putting a thorough review together until I could test the cameras in a number of circumstances.  Now there is a firmware update available from the Sony Asia site that claims to address some of the issues I have observed in my few months of use.  While not back to square one, I am hoping that in some continued testing, a review is in the near future.  Here are the links to the updates:

Versions 1.03 – 1.04

A77

A65 

A Photographer’s Worst Nightmare


Photosessions can be stressful at times.  New customers, high expectations and things happen that are outside of your control.  Many, and I mean MANY things can happen to turn a happy go-lucky photo shoot into a nightmare.  But nothing that happens on a typical shoot compares to the feeling of complete and utter despair when you put your memory card into a reader and find it to be empty.  Nothing, nadda, zilch.  There is nothing there.  What happened to those shots of the smiling family?  Or the critical moment when a bride and groom first kiss?  You work again and again to get that baby to smile and in the end you have nothing to show for it.  What do you do?

In film days, there wasn’t a lot that could be done if you left the film in the fixer solution too long or your lab goofed and you’re faced with a reshoot, if you can even repeat the shoot at all.  Today I am breathing a sigh of relief since I experienced memory card failure only yesterday.  My Lexar Platinum II compact flash card inexplicably gave up the contents of a shoot to thin air.  I scoured the internet for solutions to recover the photos, complicated by them being RAW files and not jpegs.  There are several programs out there to recover jpegs, but RAW is a little more difficult to find a program that identifies the file type correctly.

I did find a few that I could download trials of, and some of them even found all of the files, but I was looking at a price tag of $80 or more to get the files recovered.   Now I don’t have a problem paying for such a program, but I found one that did the job for free, and was just not that easy to use.  It found more files than any other one I tried, and they were in better shape than any other program yielded.  It is called Photorec 6.12 and can be downloaded for free for windows or mac.  Every photographer needs a program like this.  When your business depends on it, you should see the value in taking precautions to prevent memory failure, and irreparable loss of pictures.

Step One: Use quality cards designed to take the beating cameras and their memory cards take.  It is not a lot of money to buy a high quality card, don’t make a $50 decision to chance loosing a $1000 job.  Personally I use Sandisk Extreme and Extreme Pro cards.  I have had 2 lexar cards fail (not pro cards though) and 1 generic brand card fail.

Step Two: Take care of your cards.  Most cards come with a little plastic sleeve or case, use it when not in a camera.  Among other reasons cards fail from the wafer inside cracking, getting dirt in the pin holes and from static electricity.  Don’t wear wool socks and run around on a carpet with the card.  Eject your cards before removing them from the computer or card reader.  Keep your card reader slot clean, blow them out with compressed air or vacuum them from time to time.

Step Three: Have recovery software in the event of a failure.  As mentioned above, I used Photorec and got back 64 of 83 files.

Here’s hoping you don’t experience memory loss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sony A55, Hands on Review


New Review up in the reviews section. I had a couple of weeks with the A55 and put my thoughts together here.

Sony A77 Launches


As a professional photographer, who shoots with Sony Equipment, it is understandable that I should look upon this new camera with a favourable light.  Or is it?  It has been a long time since Sony has addressed a gaping hole in their line of cameras.  Nowhere in the western world is this hole more gaping than in Canada, where the consumer has had the option of only 1 high end body to chose from; the A850.  The A900 was discontinued, the A700 was discontinued 3-4 years ago, and the other bodies have suffered from critical failings.  As such, I have been pretty anxious for a suitable backup body to my A900.  I couldn’t warrant a new A850 to sit on the shelf most of the time, so I picked up an A55 for testing.  So far I both love and hate this camera.  Fingers crossed for the A77.

So having a look at the new specs from Henry’s information page:

α Key Features:

  • Ultra-high resolution 24.3-megapixel* Exmor™ APS HD CMOS sensor
  • World’s fastest** continuous shooting up to 12 frames-per-second with Full-time Continuous Auto-focus
  • AVCHD Ver. 2.0 (Progressive) Full HD Movie at 60p (50p)***
  • World’s first** XGA OLED Tru-Finder viewfinder
  • World’s first** 3-way tilt LCD monitor
  • 1/8000 second shutter speed and approximately 150,000 shutter release durability
I have to admit, everything I love about my A55 is made oodles better in the specs for the A77.  It’s fast, responsive and accurate.  Just watching the demo real above gets me excited to hold this camera.  However this joy is tainted by the things I hate about my A55.  Everything mentioned in their lists and promos pertains to speed and video potential.  This is fast becoming very important to photographers.  Unmentioned in its praises are anything that really matters to me as a strobist and someone who uses a lot of manufactured lighting.  If I used hot lights all the time it would be no question, but with flashes I am wary.  You see for some bizarre reason, my A55 goes completely dark in the viewfinder when you set it to manual controls, in preparation for the flash introduced light.  I have to ask, will the A77 do the same thing?  I anxiously await the answer, because amidst all the good that this camera brings to the table, that would be a deal breaker.
As for the good, trust me when I say that this camera holds the potential to be a game changer in the photo imaging world.  Its speed, definition and build all exceed anything in its competitor’s current price point, and beyond.  With fall announcements soon to be made by Canon and Nikon, it is sure to be war in the trenches for camera makers for this christmas!  I hope to be singing the praise of this camera early October when it becomes available in Canada.
-Josh-
UPDATE!
According the the dpreview’s tester, the A77 has a correction to the viewfinder issue mentioned above. “Unlike previous SLTs, you get the choice of whether the camera’s display reflects the selected exposure or whether it ignores it and gains-up to still present an image in low light. This is particularly useful when working with strobes in a studio, where you need to be able to preview the scene despite setting the exposure for when the strobes fire.”
I am even more excited to get my hands on this camera now!
You can read their whole preview and see some sample images here.  Curiously, the new 16-50 2.8 DT SSM lens appears to resolve detail better than the Zeiss 16-35 2.8. The new lens is a fraction of the cost, but not a full frame lens to be fair.  Just have a look at these two sample images, and have a look at the original files: