Canon Customer Service and my 7D
Written by: Tiffany Joyce
Have you ever experienced the sense that your skills don’t seem to be achieving the level of quality that you feel you’re capable of in your photographs? Have you ever been frustrated to open photo after photo in your editor, only to discover that what looked tack sharp on the camera’s display was, in reality, in soft focus? Have you ever felt that something was just not quite right about the way your camera was taking photographs?
Sometimes, it isn’t you. Sometimes, it’s the camera.
I struggled with this sensation for several months, after purchasing my Canon EOS 7D. I figured the fault was my own – a product of the learning curve that most people experience when purchasing an advanced camera system. Many photos that I took were very softly focused, unless the photo was taken in very bright light. The dim-lighting capabilities, one of the very reasons that I purchased the 7D, were not giving me the desired results even at the highest ISO, even on a tripod with a remote shutter release, even with my fastest lens. The camera seemed to have a hard time finding the point of focus regardless of light levels, cycling back and forth and locking focus points on random areas of the image.
One day I finally convinced myself that the problem wasn’t with the photographer (me), it was with the camera. It was a morning when I was just messing around in my office, and took this picture of my cat:
There was light coming in from the window AND a lamp on in the corner, it was the middle of the day, I had my 50mm f/1.4 lens on my camera, the ISO up to 800, was sitting perfectly still AND I wasn’t the least bit drunk (ha), and still the focus came out this soft. The camera struggled for several seconds with the auto-focus before finally settling on a shot. Sometimes the epiphany just hits you at a random moment, and this was my moment. My gut had been telling me what my mind still wanted to blame on my skills. There was something wrong with the camera.
As my 7D was still under warranty, I decided to send it to a Canon Repair Center for assessment. I logged into Canon’s support center for my region, and chose my product family, series, and model (which took me to here). Under the “Service and Support” section I chose “Arrange A Repair”, entered in my camera’s serial number (found on the bottom of my camera) and the date of purchase. From this information it was determined that my model was still under warranty. I provided some information on the issues I was experiencing, and received a repair number and a list of available service centers to ship my camera.
I once received a great piece of advice from a photographer friend of mine – always keep the original boxes and packaging that your photography equipment comes in. You never know when you’re going to need it again – to store it, to pack it for moving, or as in my case, to ship it back to the manufacturer. As the issue was with the camera body itself, I removed the battery, memory card, and lens from the camera in order to ship back only the camera body. I packed it carefully in the box, filling the empty spaces with crumpled newspaper. I put the printed warranty repair confirmation in the box (which was sent to my e-mail), and took it to my local UPS office. I paid for a shipping box and insured the shipment for the full purchase price of the camera. The nearest Canon Factory Service Center was in California, so total cost to ship from my home town in Arizona, plus the shipping box and insurance, came to about $42.00.
I shipped the camera out on a Thursday. On Monday afternoon I received confirmation that the service center had received my camera and was assessing the problem. On Wednesday afternoon I received an e-mail that the problem had been discovered and fixed, and that the camera was being shipped back to me. I received it back on my doorstep on Friday afternoon, a week and a day after shipping it out.
I received a repair assessment in the box with the camera, which read, “Your product has been examined and it was found that the adjustment of the AF assembly was incorrect. The auto focus did not operate properly. Electrical adjustments were carried out on the AF assembly and product functions were confirmed. Other electrical adjustments and inspection and cleaning were carried out.”
I tested the camera on a few quick shots around my house and found, upon first impression, that the camera was functioning much better. The AF points were positioning correctly and auto-focus was instant, with none of the cycling I saw before the repair. The real assessment came several weeks later when my husband and I went on an overnight trip to Flagstaff. I took a few hundred photos and was much happier with the performance of the camera.
All in all, I still have every bit as much faith in Canon products, and my 7D, as I ever did. Sometimes, with gear as technical as a D-SLR, adjustments need to be made. I was extremely pleased with Canon’s responsiveness and their Customer Service. Bottom line, if you are concerned that your equipment isn’t functioning properly, especially if it’s still under warranty, don’t hesitate to ship it back to the manufacturer for an assessment.
Photo credits: Tiffany Joyce
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