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Author Topic: Quality Control of Canon Lenses  (Read 16138 times)

glreynolds

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Quality Control of Canon Lenses
« on: October 09, 2006, 10:03:55 am »

Hi Folks,

I am ready to move up to a DSLR and am trying to decide between Canon and Nikon.  It is the quality of the lens systems produced by these two companies which I feel would make the difference in my decision.  Most I guess, would say it is 6 of one, half a dozen of the other.  

On several sites offering reviews of Canon lenses, I have read comments by reviewers that they have had to return a lens several times before they get a "good one".  Many say that Canons quality control is not what it should be.

What has your experience been with the quality control of these lenses?  Have you ever had to return a lens because it was too soft, etc.  Is this a considerable problem, or just a minor one?  I am sure most manufacturers will produce a "dud" now and then. Is Canons quality control equal to Nikons?

This is an honest question from a beginner, and not meant to provoke.

Gary Reynolds
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Peter Bangkok

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« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2006, 10:11:41 am »

Good question.
If I can add on. I also read that many people bring their lenses/cameras to canon (or nikon) for calibration.
Should that be a routine thing to do with new products?
How do I know if it is not properly calibrated?

Brgds
Peter
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thompsonkirk

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« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2006, 11:15:43 am »

In my experience it's been a problem only with zooms, and neither I nor my acquaintances have had one that wasn't corrected quite well re-calibration, which is free under the warranty for a new lens.  You know you need it if you check the new lens & find that its images are sharper at some focal lengths than others.  Canon re-sets the "best focus point."  I don't know why they can't control this more tightly at the factory, but it's no big deal & they do the work quickly.
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Lisa Nikodym

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« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2006, 11:54:26 am »

I had the Canon 28-135 mm lens that is pretty well regarded for a non-L lens, but my copy of it was pretty bad - quite noticeably blurry in the corners.  It got progressively worse as time went on, until it was downright awful everywhere but the very center.  I then sent it back for calibration, hoping that it would be much better afterward.  It wasn't.  It was merely back to the "pretty bad" that it had originally been.  At that point, I decided it was a good time to switch to Nikon (since they had just come out with a digital body that I was interested in).  My first Nikon lens, for a mere $300, was *much* sharper than the Canon 28-135 mm had been.

It's hard to draw overall conclusions from just one person's experience, but, to summarize:  Yes, there's a lot of variation.  However, calibration doesn't always fix things.

Lisa
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jimhuber

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« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2006, 12:11:42 pm »

I own 1 Canon "digicam", 2 Canon dSLR bodies, 5 zoom lenses, 7 prime lenses, and 1 extender. I've only ever had 1 lens that had a problem as delivered, a 100mm prime that didn't focus properly, and I've had to send 1 lens in for calibration - it was returned to "as new" performance. Even this is a very small sampling, read "statistically insignificant", but I've been very pleased with Canon quality control.
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Raoul

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« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2006, 02:58:56 pm »

I believe quality control plays an important part of the profit a manufacturer can make. I had a Nikon 18-70 mm lens calibrated ($$$), together with the Nikon D70 body (again $$$). When I got the kit back the real resolution probably doubled !  Would it be a good idea to charge a premium for 'specially adjusted kit'?

Most likely the economic equation  is the same for Canon...
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Paulo Bizarro

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« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2006, 06:30:50 am »

I have been using the EOS system since 1991. I have bought/used many lenses, and I never had a problem with any of them. I only had problems with Canon lenses when I dropped them...

I have used them from the tropical forest in Palenque to the Rub al Khali desert, no failures.

Of course, this does not mean that the next lens I get is a dude; but the same thing could happen with a TV, toaster, or car.

mr.dude

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« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2006, 07:02:38 am »

Quote
I have been using the EOS system since 1991. I have bought/used many lenses, and I never had a problem with any of them. I only had problems with Canon lenses when I dropped them...

I have used them from the tropical forest in Palenque to the Rub al Khali desert, no failures.

Of course, this does not mean that the next lens I get is a dude; but the same thing could happen with a TV, toaster, or car.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=79772\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


i've owned 2 bodies, 5 zooms, 2 primes, and 1 TC from canon.  I had to send the 50mm f1.4 in for service as it was front focusing.  it came back working just fine.  i returned the 17-85 IS as it had poor contrast and sharpness, but from reading other's experiences with this lens i concluded that my particular sample was not a dud, it just isn't a great lens in general.  1 out of 10 ain't bad IMO and it was fixed free.
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Ray

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« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2006, 07:03:48 am »

Quote
At that point, I decided it was a good time to switch to Nikon (since they had just come out with a digital body that I was interested in).  My first Nikon lens, for a mere $300, was *much* sharper than the Canon 28-135 mm had been.
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Lisa,
It's interesting how we are motivated to switch systems. I had a Minolta system since the time they brought out the first autofocus SLR until I bought a Sigma 400m prime that showed severe vignetting at all apertures greater than f11. I convinced myself that the cause was the smaller opening of the Minolta body (probably misinformation) and decided to switch to Canon which had a wider opening, IS lenses, and in particular the 100-400 IS at a reasonable price.

At the time, I had no idea that Canon were on the verge of releasing their first DSLR, the D30, and would go on to lead the field in this technology, so I am of course very happy I made the switch.

I have had a couple of problems with Canon lenses. The 400/5.6 prime was worse than my 100-400 IS at 400mm, so I returned it. My first EF-S 10-22mm wouldn't focus accurately at close distances, so I returned it. The TS-E 24mm is not sharp at the periphery, on a full frame camera. As far as I'm concerned, it's only good for a cropped format camera. But I can live with those problems.
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Marsupilami

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« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2006, 03:22:04 am »

Depends on the camera. With the 5D and the 24-70 but also the 17-40 I have problems with corner sharpness which are heavy and just above aperture 11 manageable. The full frame sensor might be a good high iso performer, but the Canon lenses are obviously not able to cope with that camera. You can find a lot of posts about photographers seeking alternatives by adapting old olympus, leica lenses for wide angle work. Note that I have been at Canon Service in Vienna (which is very helpful) and that they stated that all is Ok. So it seems that this is just the poor quality of this lenses on a full frame body. Certainly the main part of Canon photographers is not aware of this problem, because cameras like the 5 D are ideal for wedding, people, press and that stuff because of the very good high iso performance. And the corner sharpness is no isssue here. When you do landscape, architecture or stock you are suddenly not that happy any more. But the question is, if Nikon is better in that area. And every system has its limitations, Canon might be the corner sharpness, Nikon is not so good at high iso. Also you should look at these cameras live in a shop. The viewfinder on the 5D is in my opinion for a full frame camera poor (96% frame coverage Magnification: 0.71x  Eyepoint: 20 mm), nikon viewfinder are in general better (Eyepoint: 19.9 mm Frame coverage 100% Viewfinder magnification approx 0.86x  from the D2X) and also the screen of the 5D is in bright sunlight almost unusable.

Good luck with your decision !
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cescx

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« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2006, 12:04:52 pm »

Nikon and canon lens, are differnet, not by the quality control,  I supose is the same, I use Canon lens L level only, and I very happy with the result.
Compare the N to C lens, is the same to compare Leitz Vs Zeiss, the Leitz like more the canon more smooth, and zeiss like the nikon more hard, but any one are the same qualtity.

The decision, in may case, for canon EOS is the full 24*36 capabilities in the 5D and the 1DS, more valuable that the possible quality difference in the quality contol of the lens.

Cheers

Cesc
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Francesc Costa

elkhornsun

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« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2006, 09:13:20 pm »

The Canons require a lot more time at CPS (Canon Pro Services) for calibration and many pros end up sending the same lens back 3 or more times to get it right. The 5D is a similarly less well built than a Nikon D200 that sells for half of what the 5D did when it was released. 5D lacks any weatherproofing and users complain about the sensor anti-aliasing filter coming off when they change lenses.

The Canon 5D with its full frame sensor is a good option is you plan to do a lot of architectural photography or low light and need ISO 1600-3200. Part of the need for the high ISO with the 5D is that the only "normal" range zooms, the 24-105mm f4 or 17-40mm f4 are quite slow. Canon makes a 17-55m f2.8 IS lens but it only works on the 20D/30D bodies.

Canon Pro users seem used to the problems which is most often reported by people who switched to Canon from Nikon and are surprised at how poor the build quality and quality control is with even the Canon pro level lenses.
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jb17kx

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« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2006, 12:47:16 am »

I have used many different Canon lenses, both mine and owned by others, including FD-series lenses for my AL-1, EF-series lenses for my friend's EOS bodies, EF-S-series lenses for a different friend's 350D, various fixed lenses in compact digitals and 35mm bodies, and had no problems. Again, that's not to say that the next lens I buy (most probably a used FD 300mm f/4.0 telephoto at this stage) won't be bad, but I would have no qualms buying a Canon lens.
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Jonathan Wienke

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« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2006, 03:55:18 am »

I have 7 Canon lenses (mostly L), and have shot about 120,000 frames with them. So far the only service call needed was a screw coming loose and rattling around inside my 35-350L after about 30,000 frames on that lens, which was fixed under warranty--all I paid was shipping to Canon and the lens came back properly repaired good as new. I've had no back focusing or front-focusing problems with any of my lenses on a 10D, 1Ds, or 1D-MkII bodies. Keep in mind that disgruntled people are much more likely to complain on the internet than satisfied customers with no issues, so any issues will appear much worse than they really are. And many of the complaints you see are due to user error and not hardware problems, particularly focus problems.
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GregW

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« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2006, 10:25:13 am »

Out of curiosity what methodology are people using to 'test' a new lens or one they have doubts about:

- Take a few shots of a favorite subject and compare to previous results with other lenses
- Brick wall test at different focal lengths/apertures
- Lens chart test
- etc.
- etc
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Jonathan Wienke

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« Reply #15 on: December 01, 2006, 12:42:22 pm »

Quote
Out of curiosity what methodology are people using to 'test' a new lens or one they have doubts about:

I've run into more than one "my camera isn't focusing properly" person who was shooting handheld indoors with no flash at ISO 100 and shutter speeds under 1/60 who confused camera shake for an AF problem or lens defect. Yes, there is defective hardware out there, but user error is significantly more common.
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jb17kx

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« Reply #16 on: December 02, 2006, 04:07:57 am »

Really, I use the first method mentioned. Just go out and shoot some stuff, and see how it comes out.

@ Jonathan: Those people sound like they should have a gander at the manual. If it's anything like my AL-1 manual, they could learn a lot from it.
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KAP

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« Reply #17 on: December 05, 2006, 02:24:47 pm »

Quote from: glreynolds,Oct 9 2006, 03:03 PM
Hi Folks,

I am ready to move up to a DSLR and am trying to decide between Canon and Nikon.  It is the quality of the lens systems produced by these two companies which I feel would make the difference in my decision.  Most I guess, would say it is 6 of one, half a dozen of the other.  

I'm not sure either company has any quality control to speak of. i've a Nikkor 70-200mm that is sharper on the right than it is on the left, my Canon 70-200mm is top notch. I've lost count of the Canon wides I've tried, they all  make better paper weights than they do lenses. My nikkor 28-70mm is realy nice.
So take your pick.

Kevin.
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dseelig

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« Reply #18 on: December 05, 2006, 02:54:05 pm »

Quote from: KAP,Dec 5 2006, 07:24 PM
One other thing canon noise is much lower at 800 on up then nikon so if you are a low light shooter go canon David
Quote from: glreynolds,Oct 9 2006, 03:03 PM
Hi Folks,

I am ready to move up to a DSLR and am trying to decide between Canon and Nikon.  It is the quality of the lens systems produced by these two companies which I feel would make the difference in my decision.  Most I guess, would say it is 6 of one, half a dozen of the other.  

I'm not sure either company has any quality control to speak of. i've a Nikkor 70-200mm that is sharper on the right than it is on the left, my Canon 70-200mm is top notch. I've lost count of the Canon wides I've tried, they all  make better paper weights than they do lenses. My nikkor 28-70mm is realy nice.
So take your pick.

Kevin.
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howiesmith

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« Reply #19 on: December 06, 2006, 02:58:13 pm »

Quality control may not be measured by your lrns, but how a lens varies from the normal in the "bad" direction.  Variations from the normal in the "good" direction may not be a probleam but may be what people expect.

I have no experience with Canon's method of QC.  However, a common QC method is control charts that plot the quality (as measured by something) against sample in terms of standard deviations.  If the tasted samples exceed (fall below) the lower limit, adjusts are made to the manufacturing process and/or more test examples made.  This mehod will detect drift in a process.

The number of lenses tested will determine by the allowable variations in lenses.  Statistically, it takes a relative few tested examples to have a very high confidence that the examples represent the total, untested population.

The bottom line is, "bad" lenses may be more the expected limit and "excellant" lenses may represent flukes but what has become the expected lens by certain users, not Canon.
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