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Author Topic: Quality Control of Canon Lenses  (Read 16137 times)

flying kiwi

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Quality Control of Canon Lenses
« Reply #20 on: December 07, 2006, 02:59:31 pm »

If you take two lenses that come off the line consecutively, one will be better than the other.There is no way that two units can be exactly identical. These units are tested to within certain tolerances and if they stay within these tolerances they are passed.
Canon are smart enough not to let most things get out of control and if they had a quality issue they would have addressed it long ago.

Mistakes do happen and yes some people may end up with an inferior unit though I would suspect this rarely happens.

As has been said in previous posts. If people are happy with their Lenses they are just that, happy. If people are unhappy then they want the whole world to know about it.

I think the internet is good for a lot of things, one of them, being this site.
However, I do think that having  information so available has driven some people to the point of being neurotic about these issues.
Before the internet came along people (amateurs) would buy lense/s and go out and take pictures. Nowadays it seems that people buy a lens, do some (dubious) test shots and then post a plethora of criticisms on how their lens isn't the greatest.
Buying Canon lenses isn't a hit and miss affair. Taking questionable test shots is!

Take the following example.

Friend of mine complained about my 17-40mm lens and moaned it wasn't sharp. He'd used it on  a tripod and used a cable release and said he'd done all the right things. Obviously I had a bad copy (personaly I can't stand the term "copy")
Turns out that he had the tripod standing on a wooden floor and everytime a car drove past the floor would vibrate just a little. Well a little is enough and once he'd sorted that out his shots were great.

The above will outnumber bad lenses by 5000 to 1
« Last Edit: December 07, 2006, 03:10:29 pm by flying kiwi »
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howiesmith

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Quality Control of Canon Lenses
« Reply #21 on: December 07, 2006, 03:31:10 pm »

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If you take two lenses that come off the line consecutively, one will be better than the other.There is no way that two units can be exactly identical. These units are tested to within certain tolerances and if they stay within these tolerances they are passed.

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It is not necessary or even desirable, to test each production item.  I think we sometimes do not consider that most folks who buy a Canon lens and are satisfied, don't mention it.  It is only those that get the "lemon" who bring it up.  This may give a very skewed notion of Canon quality, especially considering that perhaps that lemon is within Canon's acceptable limits, but worse than the consumer had hoped for or expected.
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Ed Dubois

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« Reply #22 on: December 07, 2006, 09:34:06 pm »

Guess I'll jump in too Gary.

I've been a Canon user for many years and have owned a large number of Canon lenses. The only two I had problems with were both used lenses I bought at camera stores. In both cases I suspect the lenses had been damaged and the previous owners were getting rid of them. Both were repaired by the sellers and in both cases they (the camera stores) were pretty unhappy but that wasn't my fault or Canon's.

Of the approximately 20 (I guess) lenses I've bought new all have been excellent. My  500 f4 IS focus did get out of alignment after I'd used it heavily for 2+ years but Canon CPS fixed it and returned it to me without any cost. I don't think anyone can be any fairer than that.

Since you're asking with an eye to buying new equipment I'd add that the most important feature of any camera system is that it works well for you, the photographer. Brand names aside, if a particular camera feels right in your hands and you're happy with the results then that's the one for you. As you know excellent images have been made with virtually all brands of equipment.  
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howiesmith

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« Reply #23 on: December 08, 2006, 08:08:04 am »

I have thought that perhaps buying used lenses, the buyer gets the cast offs.  The opposite of cherry picking.  Are used lenses more apt to have been a disappointment to their former owner?
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Greenfields

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« Reply #24 on: December 08, 2006, 01:10:39 pm »

Have seven Canon "professional" lenses including 24 & 45 mmTS-E and Macro primes.  All purchased new.

Four were faulty - in all cases because the optical cells had not been accurately aligned during assembly so that the image sharpness was asymmetrical.  In one case the effect was subtle.  In the other three cases the lens was not really usable.

The worst were the 24mm and 45mm TS-E lenses.  

All the lenses were either serviced or replaced by Canon.  This takes about 6 weeks in the UK - which is a bit of an irritation after spending so much on lenses which are supposed to be good.    Interestingly, the lenses which had been serviced were as close to perfect as they could be.  The replacements were merely "good".

I suspect that Canon have decided that it is more profitable to relax the assembly tolerance to the point at which lost users will tolerate them abnd let more critical users do the QC themselves.
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elkhornsun

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« Reply #25 on: December 12, 2006, 01:31:47 am »

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I suspect that Canon have decided that it is more profitable to relax the assembly tolerance to the point at which lost users will tolerate them abnd let more critical users do the QC themselves.
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Consider that all of Nikon's profits come from their optical products and 7% of Canon's profits come from their optical profits and you can understand why Nikon puts more attention to quality assurance, both by design and their manufacturing processes. Canon uses the camera division to garner publicity for the company and they have found that it helps them sell copiers.

Compare the $3500 5D with no weather sealing and a consumer grade body to the Nikon D200 selling for $1700, that has a magnesium core and full weather seals. It is a very different attitude that drives these two companies.

If you are a casual shooter it is not going to make a great deal of difference. I shoot on average 3,000 images each week to earn a living and equipment reliability is very important to me. I cannot afford to have equipment at CPS or in transit when I need to be taking pictures for a client.  Other pros accept the problems with their Canon gear either due to greater familiarity with the Canon cameras and already owning Canon lenses, or due to a perceived need to be able to shoot relatively low noise, though soft, images at ISO 3200.

I deal with the greater noise from the Nikon APS-C sensor cameras by keeping the ISO at 1000 or less, by using fast primes, and by using fill flash. It works for me.

If all I wanted was an inexpensive kit for travel or family shots, the Nikon D80/D50/D40 with the 18-200mm VR lens would be hard to beat with anything in their price range from Canon.
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Paul Kay

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« Reply #26 on: December 13, 2006, 09:04:54 am »

Fascinating!

I changed from D1X to EOS1DS for a variety of reasons - not least being format and the availability of fast wide primes together with the 100 macro. I have since bought (too) many Canon lenses and have had no problems with any of them. Sure, some are better than others. I didn't like either the 24~105 nor 17~40 but this had as much to do with aperture as anything else (and the 24~105 did vignette!) and sold these off, but both 24~70 and 70~200 are as good as I could want them to be.

But most impressive have been the 100 macro - stunningly sharp - and the 60EFS macro (coupled with a 12mm extension tube - the MkII version) which produces a really excellent fast focus macro lens on FF even if limited in focus range - surprisingly good for a lens not even originally designed for FF.

I have no complaints over my change although I do miss aspects of the Nikon - most related to ergonomics (although this could simply be due to old habits taking a long time to kill). Lens quality issues have really not been a problem and I for one would advocate looking at all the additional reasons for deciding between Nikon and Canon without worrying too much over potentially internet-hyped lens QC problems. If Canon make a lens which you need the characteristics of but Nikon don't, then this might be a good reason for choosing Canon - and clearly the opposite is true.
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aaykay

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« Reply #27 on: December 13, 2006, 12:27:40 pm »

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Compare the $3500 5D with no weather sealing and a consumer grade body to the Nikon D200 selling for $1700, that has a magnesium core and full weather seals. It is a very different attitude that drives these two companies.

I think comparing the cropped-sensor Nikon D200 ($1700)  to the FF Canon 5D, while leaving out the cropped-sensored Canon 30D ($1100 ?) from the comparison, was being a bit ingenious.  Just my opinion.

As as aside, the steel core and magesium body are present in both the 5D and the 30D, since you seem to have missed mentioning it.  The whole point of the 5D is its FF sensor.  You take it out and replace it with a crop-sensor, and the whole point of the 5D is lost.  Nikon does not have a Full-frame sensor, yet, not even in their top-end D2X.

Canon does employ a plastic body (with a steel core), in their consumer-grade Rebel XT/XTi (350D/400D).

And Nikon does save quite some money by manufacturing the D200 in a low-cost country like Thailand, while their higher-end pro-model D2X is assembled in Japan, like the Canon 5D and the 30D.
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aaykay

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« Reply #28 on: December 13, 2006, 12:38:30 pm »

I think one additional point we need to keep in mind is that p&s cameras have enormous DOF and so critical focus may not be a huge consideration.  With DSLRS and their large sensors and fast lenses, with their attendant narrow DOF, achieving critical focus is a prime consideration for the picture to be considered sharp.  

I think some of the complaints are from folks who have newly arrived from the p&s world, and are disappointed at not having a large DOF and consider that a "problem" ? Obviously I am not discounting the vagaries of the mass-manufacturing process, where bad examples do land in consumers' hands.
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howiesmith

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Quality Control of Canon Lenses
« Reply #29 on: December 13, 2006, 03:22:54 pm »

All of the published MTFs from Canon for their lenses are theoretical, not trst results from sample lenses.  Is this an attempt by Canon to conceal differences between their designs and actual lenses?

Are photodo MTFs for a single randomly selected, consumer available lens, a Canon supplied lens, or representative of a sample of lenses available to consumers?

I have never seen a controlled poll of Canon lens users and their opinions of various lenses.  Results from web postings is not a valid representative sample, whether good or bad for Canon.

It seems that quality problems would crop up in manufacturing - how well does a real lens match its design.  Wouldn't lenses with more elements (more glass grinding problems and assembly problems, etc.) and more moving parts (zooms for instance) be more apt to exhibit problems (variation from design)?
« Last Edit: December 13, 2006, 03:32:03 pm by howiesmith »
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John Camp

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« Reply #30 on: December 13, 2006, 07:44:00 pm »

I actually think that making a choice between Canon and Nikon based on lens quality is a mistake. There are very serious photogaphers, whose living depends on their cameras, using each system. If there were grave across-the-board differences in lens quality, I doubt that that would be true. If you're making a choice between systems, and want to do serious research, you first have to figure out your own personal goals. (If your personal goal is, "I dunno, I just want to shoot everything," that's not very helpful.)

But IMHO:

A top-end Nikon has a better flash system, weighs less, and for a given effective field of view, uses shorter, faster, cheaper lenses, and has better sharpness edge to edge across the picture frame; and the body is cheaper. If I were doing wildlife photography, or a lot of hiking, or a lot of macro work (Nikon's close-up flashes are great), I'd go with Nikon.

I would say autofocus is pretty much of a toss-up.

A top-end Canon puts more pixels on target (though it may take a longer lens to do it), has better high-ISO by at least a couple of stops, better image stabilization, better tilt/shift lenses and possibly better ultimate picture quality for any given field of view. If I were doing lots of indoor low-light non-flash work (weddings), night shooting, or architecture, I'd go with Canon.

I personally think much of ergonomics has to do with what you become accustomed to -- but I've heard many Nikon people, who shifted to Canon, complain about Canon ergonomics; I haven't heard the reverse, though perhaps because most of the shifting has gone from Nikon to Canon.

By the way, Thom Hogan, who has a Nikon-oriented website, is predicting that the next Nikon top-end pro camera will be a ~23mp full-frame, to be announced in a year or so. If you go with a Nikon system, this might not be a good time to go overboard with DX-only lenses...
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elkhornsun

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« Reply #31 on: December 13, 2006, 08:27:51 pm »

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I think comparing the cropped-sensor Nikon D200 ($1700)  to the FF Canon 5D, while leaving out the cropped-sensored Canon 30D ($1100 ?) from the comparison, was being a bit ingenious.  Just my opinion.

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I believe the word you meant to use is "disingenuous" but there is nothing crafty about comparing the build quality (the point of the thread) of a $3500 Canon camera to a $1700 Nikon camera. What would have been stupid, though often done, is to compare the image quality of a $3500 camera to a $1700 which makes as much sense as comparing the D200's image quality to that of a Canon G7. I would however, expect the build quality of the D200 to be better than that of the G7 or for that matter the 20D/30D cameras.

I would expect a 35mm sized sensor with the pixel density of a D100 to have less noise than a D200 or a D2x, but that is not the subject of this thread. It is the quality of the equipment in terms of usage without needed to send used or often new lenses and cameras back to the manufacturer to correct problems that should never have left the factory in the first place.

There is no mystery here. Anyone who looks at the much greater information available on frequency of car repairs or defects in cars from the factory that required their owners to take them in for servicing, knows there are significant differences between cars produced by the American automakers and the Asian automakers (using American workers) in terms of their engineering quality in and their assembly processes to minimize defects. Regardless of whether a Camry is "better" than a Taurus, the Toyota owner is likely to spend a lot less time visiting their dealer for servicing and repairs. If someone only drives 2000 miles a year they may experience no significant difference regardless of which car they buy.

Unfortunately with camera repairs performed almost entirely by their manufacturers it is not possible to get similar "hard data" on cameras. The information is going to be largely anecdotal.

I network with hundreds of professional photographers, including many who have switched from Nikon to Canon in the past two years to gain the perceived advantages of lower noise and a 35mm sized sensor. They have in turn often been dismayed at the amount of time they have to spend swapping out bodies and lenses, and this includes brand new equipment, with CPS. Something they did not find themselves doing during the years they used Nikon equipment.

If I was only shooting as a hobby and my usage was going to be light, as in under 10,000 images a year, it would not really matter unless I was taking the gear on a once in a lifetime trip.

Bruce
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Jonathan Wienke

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« Reply #32 on: December 14, 2006, 03:57:41 am »

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I believe the word you meant to use is "disingenuous" but there is nothing crafty about comparing the build quality (the point of the thread) of a $3500 Canon camera to a $1700 Nikon camera.

Given that the most expensive part of a digital camera is the sensor and not the body, and the 5D's full-frame sensor costs more than the entire Nikon D200 you're comparing it to, quibbling about build quality is an apples-to-oranges comparison, especially given that Nikon hasn't bothered to include a full frame sensor in any of their bodies yet. Bodies are cheap, full-frame sensors are not. The 5D is a reasonable attempt to create an affordable full-frame DSLR. And as mentioned, all Canon DSLRs have a metal frame under the plastic, so they are not as flimsy as you may think.

I have 2 1-series bodies, and 7 Canon lenses, mostly L. I shot over 50,000 frames a year while I was shooting professionally, and have over 120,000 images in my archives. The only hardware problem I had was a screw coming loose inside my 35-350L, which while it didn't cause any lens malfunctions or image quality issues, Canon fixed promptly under warranty. All I paid was shipping to Canon, maybe 30 bucks, and I had the lens back in less than two weeks. Enough with the Canon bashing already.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2006, 04:03:58 am by Jonathan Wienke »
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Paul Kay

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« Reply #33 on: December 14, 2006, 05:00:50 am »

"I actually think that making a choice between Canon and Nikon based on lens quality is a mistake" - yes, I would say it is! Basing a decision on the available lenses and what whey will do makes far more sense, but clearly if there was a quality control issue with either Nikon or Canon lenses then this would be a serious matter.

FF sensors are very demanding and it is this which gives rise to the internet based Canon quality control lens issues comments. When we all shot film were there as many comments about lens quality issues - I think not. I use 1DSs and have decided not to 'upgrade' because the results it produces are more than adequate for the work I do, and I do see flaws in lens quality at times - depending on what I am doing - that said, I switched to Canon because Nikon didn't (and still don't) make some of the lenses that I use. With these lenses I can achieve the results that I want - rather more important to me than having (possibly better quality controlled) lenses which won't do what I want. I have NEVER lost an image sale due to the optical quality of a lens I used to take it with.

Oh yes, and I do a lot of macro work - and I find Canon's offerings to be absolutely excellent.
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David Anderson

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« Reply #34 on: December 14, 2006, 05:29:52 am »

Canon macro lenses are very good, but I think the issue with quality control was more about the difference in quality you could see in different copies of the same lens model, not just the sharpness of a particular model..
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Paul Kay

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« Reply #35 on: December 14, 2006, 09:18:46 am »

Quite, but to really know whether quality control issues really exist or are simply hyped up by internet discussion you'd need a lot of information to make an objective judgement (which probably only Canon has).

I have seen a lot of discussion on the web about Canon QC issues but don't know whether this simply reflects a vociferous few who (even inadvertantly) exploint the web's disconcerting ability to magnify their concerns. But my own experience has been good - I've had no lenses from either Nikon or Canon which were worse than I anticipated although several I didn't like (Nikon's 12~24, Canon's 17~40 and 24~105) and I do have a copy of Canon's 20 which has decidedly soft corners on FF digital (I was forewarned that it might have - paradoxically I know other professional photographers who like their 20s, soft corners and all).

QC issues would (did) not stop me from buying Canon as opposed to Nikon if (as) other considerations in my requirement pushed me that way.
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howiesmith

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« Reply #36 on: December 14, 2006, 09:41:24 am »

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... to really know ... you'd need a lot of information to make an objective judgement ... .

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True.  Unfortunitly, this does not keep many folks from making claims and passing them off as universally accepted facts.

+++++++++++++++++++

While checking on something else, I ran accross this statement:

"... i guess (as in: i do not know really. I never tried to compare.)"

I think that pretty much says it all.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2006, 10:42:39 am by howiesmith »
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John Camp

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« Reply #37 on: December 14, 2006, 01:07:48 pm »

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Oh yes, and I do a lot of macro work - and I find Canon's offerings to be absolutely excellent.
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I'm sure they are -- my comment more involved the dedicated Nikon close-up flashes.

JC
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howiesmith

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« Reply #38 on: December 14, 2006, 01:34:55 pm »

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... , and the 5D's full-frame sensor costs more than the entire Nikon D200 you're comparing it to, ... .

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Do you have a basis for this statement?

I quickly checked b and h.  The 5D costs about $2650.  The D200 costs about $1350.  Take the sensor out of the 5D and would it cost about the same as the entire D200 with a sensor?  Seems that would make the Nihon a real bargain.

+++++++++++++++++++

Scratch that.  One cannot compare cost and price.  The price of an inexpensive sensor could be high if the margin is high.

It would still be interesting, maybe even more so, to know what makes a Canon 5D sensor more expensive than a complete Nikon D200.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2006, 07:05:57 pm by howiesmith »
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D White

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« Reply #39 on: December 17, 2006, 03:47:34 am »

I have 12, mostly L-series lenses from 15mm to 600mmf4. All have been fine performers with no malfunctions and have functioned well down to -50?C. My 1DsII and previous film bodies have functioned with no issues. I wish I could have said the same of my Hasselblad system that lived at the service department.

Some people expect a wide angle zoom to be as sharp wide open as a prime macro lens stopped down--not going to happen.

Statistically, there will be more comments about Canon as they sell a lot more stuff than Nikon.
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Dr D White DDS BSc
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