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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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Sadly, another Sony Warranty Issue


Sadly, yesterday I tried to shoot some macro with my A77.  To my dismay I could not get it to disengage the auto-focus drive from my Tamron 90mm 2.8.  The front auto-focus mode dial did absolutely nothing.  I tried 4 lenses, and a firmware reboot and the dial continued to be unresponsive.  Fortunately I did figure out a work-around since the AF/MF toggle on the back of the body continued to work. For those of you following my epic string of Sony fail, here’s the tally.

A77 – (~5 months old)

1- Sync port pulled out of body, warranty

2- Unresponsive AF mode dial

3-No audio

4-Damaged by repair dept at Sony – LCD screen, AF, etc…

A900

1- New body when issues with WB and underexposure (~2 weeks old)

2- Sync port and USB port failure, repaired (~2 years old)

3- Mirror/Shutter assembly failed, New body (~3 years old)

CZ 24-70 2.8

1- Lens barrel loosened, repaired (~2 years old)

2- AF toggle switch fell out, still away for repair (~ 3.5 years old)

Now the CZ has had ~ 100,000 shots through it and I work my equipment everyday.  I still think my equipment has performed well, when it’s working.  But seriously reconsidering the A77/A65 with the number of issues I’ve had with it.  Am I unusually blessed with bad luck with this thing? We’ll see.  If someone knows a magical switch I turned to deactivate it, please let me know!

Here’s one of the macros:

UPDATE! 07/17/12

So here I am back from Romania and once again my A77 is being sent in for Warranty issues.  The audio on the A77 went while shooting an interview in a car between Ghioroc and Arad Romania.  Fortunately I had my A65 there as a backup and could finish shooting for the week, but I lost audio for a pretty sweet interview from Stelu.  There is a slight audio signal if you crank the volume in post, but it is accompanied by a hiss and beeping from the camera cranking its autogain to try and pick up a signal.  What a bummer, tried a hardware reset in a few different ways as recommended online but no cigar.  So this is warranty repair #3 since November.  Shame really, I hope this is just a screwy body and not indicative of the rest of the A77’s out there.

Another UPDATE August 2, 2012

So I got a call to pick up my A77 from repair.  Before leaving the store, I always put a battery in and a memory card to test it, to save time in case there’s a problem.  Well what do you know, the LCD screen doesn’t work and the autofocus isn’t working.  So I send in a camera with one problem, and get the camera back with more problems?  What is up Sony?  Do you even test the camera before sending it back “fixed”?  Needless to say, it is on its way back to Sony AGAIN.

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 

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: