Canon Customer Service and my 7D

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Canon 7D

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:

Ozzy

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.

Train tracks, Flagstaff AZ

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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  • Clemons Larry

    I recenty had to send my 5D in for repair. I was shooting for an HDR project and the mirror came loose and jammed inside the camera. Canon had earlier recognised it as a fault and the camera, though out of warrantee was repaired for free. I bought my first Canon camera in 1971 and have owned most of Canon’s 35mm bodies at one time or another as well as several digital cameras. In all those years, this was the first time I had to send one in for repair. Needless to say I am more than pleased with their service!

  • Manu Kapoor

    You’re lucky…I wasn’t. I bought my camera in a free trade zone – Dubai and used it in India. One fine day the camera froze and couldn’t take any pics. I took it to the repair center and they gave me a bill for $225. I argued with them for hours saying it was still under warranty and I showed it to them. They hid behind a convenient fact – products purchased in free trade zones can only be serviced in those zones only!!! I don’t know who to blame – myself (for not knowing the free trade zone disadvantage) or Canon or both!!! I still feel it’s Canon’s fault cos no matter where this camera was purchased and may not buy one in the future.

  • Steve Russell

    Manu, in the U.S. we have a term called “Gray Market”. Gray market camera equipment has been around for over twenty years. What it means is a piece of equipment purchased in the U.S. that wasn’t packaged for sale in the U.S. Canon USA absolutely will not service gray market Canon products. I believe that Nikon takes the same stance. I’m really sorry this happened to you and I’m sorry you weren’t aware of this issue but it’s a story I’ve heard many times over the years. The merchant that sold it to you should have made that clear but then that would mean we live in a perfect world. There are other products besides camera equipment where this is also true.

  • Kim Siebert

    Just to let you know – they are supposed to send you a UPS LABEL for FREE.. Anything under warranty or if you are part of the Canon Professional Serivices program your shipping labels are ALWAYS FREE…..

    I too had focusing issues and noise issues with a BRAND NEW 7D – it was shipped the Monday after I got it on a Friday, they sent me a free loaner because I put up a huge stink and had a fund raiser to shoot the next day, Saturday and had already loaned out my 50D so I had no camera, they sent me, for free a loaner 7D to use – it was perfect.

    within a week and 1/2 I had my fixed 7D.

    There is a HUGE manufacturing issue with the 7D’s right now, just google Noise problems, and focusing problems for the 7D and you will see it is all over the place ridiculous.

    Check out the C.P.S programs too, there is a cheap one for 100$ a year, where you get free cleanings and free loaners and discounted repairs if out of warranty. Worth every penny if you value your business. You have to have 3 Canon lenses to qualify, just go to the C.P.S page and check to see which lenses are required to have and which cameras qualify, & 7D you are good to go –

    here is the link for C.P.S info and the link to verify which lenses are needed to qualify.

    Main Page:
    http://www.usa.canon.com/cusa/professional/standard_display/CPS

    Which level program?:
    http://www.usa.canon.com/cusa/professional/standard_display/CPS_Member

    And yes, there is a free Silver level program, and the 500$ a year Platinum program gives you 60% off all repairs AND free shipping there an back.

    If you are a professional and don’t at LEAST sign up for the Silver program, you are foolish.

    and remember, if you are IN WARRANTY, DO NOT PAY FOR SHIPPING TO CANON, IT IS THEIR PRODUCT, DO NOT TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER AND STICK TO YOUR GUNS.. PERIOD.

    Hope this helps someone.