LensRentals.com

Lensrentals Repair Data: 2012-2013

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Correction: Lenses called "Rokinon" in the "Weeks to Failure" rate incorrectly included Bower & Samyang branded products. Because of this error, data for lenses called "Rokinon" lenses has been removed. We apologize for this inaccuracy, and any confusion that may have resulted therefrom.

What Is This?

We have a unique opportunity: We own a very large number of lenses and cameras subjected to rather harsh conditions. Basically, we have a laboratory set up to stress test photography equipment and we share those results with you.

Our numbers reflect heavy and hard use. Your personal equipment shouldn’t fail nearly as often; it isn’t subjected to rental conditions. But this does provide some comparison about how fragile various pieces of equipment are.

It’s not completely scientific, but with data on over 12,000 copies resulting in over 2,000 repairs it’s a bit more useful than posts on a forum going back and forth between “mine's great” and “mine sucked.”

This list is not a comment about how good a lens is. It’s simply data about how often it breaks under harsh conditions. Some of my favorite lenses and cameras are rather fragile.

Some Things to be Aware of

First of all this is our largest survey ever. This is a full year's data (the last report was for 6 months) and we have a lot more lenses and cameras than we used to have, going out on a lot more rentals. A larger sample size helps improve data accuracy, and this sample is more than twice as large as any we've done previously.

We present our data as the number of rental weeks per failure. That levels the playing field since nothing (as best we can tell) stops working while sitting on a shelf. For example, if we had 100 copies of a lens, each rented for 30 weeks during the year, and we've had 30 repairs, that lens averages 100 rental weeks per failure.

Equipment Age

Our average item is less than a year old, and none are more than two years old. For the vast majority of items the average copy is just under a year old.

But if an item has been released in the last 8 or 9 months, all the copies are new and repairs may seem falsely low. They may also seem falsely high - a problem that was noticed with the first production run may be quietly fixed before subsequent production runs. For example, the battery doors on the first batch of Nikon D800 cameras broke if you looked at them hard, but we've not seen that at all since the first 6 months.

When an item is discontinued we still stock it for a while, so all of the copies are nearly two years old and the repair rate may get higher. This year the Canon 24-70 f/2.8 and 5D Mk IIs are good examples of discontinued items where the fleet is older. This may also happen to a lesser extent when demand drops. For example Nikon D600 and D800 demand has dropped compared to last year, so we haven't added many new copies and the fleet average for those cameras is over a year old.

The Failure Rate Is Higher This Year

How we do this survey is always a work in progress. I made one major change between last year's survey and this year's. I call more repairs 'failures' and fewer 'damage'. Damaged items don't count for this survey, so if a lens is dropped and dented, while it goes to repair we don't count it as a failure.

But I noticed something while looking at our data. We've always considered a broken AF/MF switch, for example, to be damage. That makes sense, part of the lens is broken off. But when I took 31 broken AF/MF switches out of the repair spreadsheet and moved them to the 'damaged' side, I noticed that 14 of them were from one lens; the Canon 35mm f/1.4L. That means almost half of the AF/MF switch replacements were done on a lens that accounts for 1% of all of our copies.

I found a lot of similar examples. Lots of lenses get dropped (our customers email and tell us). Most are absolutely fine afterwards. With a few, though, every time a copy gets bumped the zoom key jumps out of its slot, elements shift and the optical resolutions changes, and the barrel breaks in half.

So I decided, by the power vested in me as keeper of the spreadsheets, that it made more sense to consider 'indirect damage' to be more about fragile lenses and less about minor drops and bumps. Obviously, front or rear element scratches, sand or water in the lens, dented filter rings and broken hoods are direct damage and don't count in our numbers. Everything else is now a repair.

New Lenses are Now Repaired, Not Returned

Last year, if a lens had a problem 'out of the box' we sent it in for exchange and it didn't show up on the repair list. This year, we sent it in for repair (there were business reasons for that). This increased the repair rate, too. (When you buy 5,000 or so lenses a year, that 3% out-of-the-box problem rate means another 150 repairs.)

I also counted repeat repairs as separate repairs this year. If a lens went in to repair, came back not fixed, and went back again it counted as two repairs (last year it would have been one). I did this thinking if it was your lens, you would definitely consider it two repairs. I also thought if a company was worse at getting things fixed the first time, our data should reflect it somehow.

Because of these changes, the failure rate was nearly twice as high as last year. Last year's report cut off 'high failure rate' at less than 155 rental weeks per failure. This year it's 60 rental weeks per failure. It also means you can't compare a lens' weeks-until-failure rate from last year to this year and say "it got worse", because almost every lens got worse. On the other hand, if one got better, it really did get better.

Equipment Failure Rates

Limitations and Disclaimers

This is an annualized repair rate of the period from July 1, 2012 to July 1, 2013. We list the 5% of our inventory that had the highest repair rate (fewest rental weeks per failure).

 

Unlike some manufacturers, we consider failure of an internal part without obvious external damage to be a failure, not the result of impact. 

 

We make no comment at all on lenses that we have less than 10 copies of (that's not enough data to be useful) or that have been in stock less than 3 months -- unless something spectacular is going on.

The following lenses or cameras we carry were NOT evaluated because we have less than 10 copies or they were in stock less than 3 months.

  • Canon: 180 f/3.5 L; MPE-65 Macro; 800mm f/5.6 IS L; 200-400 f/4 IS L; 400mm DO IS
  • Nikon: 14mm f/2.8; 16mm f/2.8; 20mm f/2.8; 200mm f/2.0 VR; all PC-E lenses
  • Sony: all Alpha prime lenses; NEX 20mm f/2.8; NEX30mm f/3.5 macro; NEXOSS; 55-210;
  • Tamron: 180 f/3.5
  • Sigma: 20 f/1.8; 70mm f/2.8 Macro; 105mm macro; 180 f/2.8 OS; 300-80mm
  • Panasonic: All cameras except GH2, 45-175mm lens, 100-300 lens
  • Olympus m4/3: 9-18mm
  • All Leica, Pentax, Fuji, and Schneider items

 

If we carry the lens and it isn’t listed above or below, then its weeks per failure was greater than 60 weeks.

I used the following descriptions of the sample size: Very large - over 3,000 rental weeks and 200 copies; Large - over 1,000 rental weeks and 90 copies; Moderate - over 400 rental weeks and 40 copies; Small - under 400 rental weeks, 10 to 40 copies. The larger the data sample, the more reliable the results. Small samples sizes are more likely to just be random events.

We'll look a little further into those by telling you what it was that went wrong. If 4 different things go wrong in 4 different lenses out of 50 in stock, it's likely to be random. If all 4 have exactly the same problem, it's more likely there is a weakness in the lens.

The average rental weeks per failure for all lenses and cameras this year was just over 100 . Everything fails eventually, but it usually takes a long time to do it.

Finally, the usual 'don't read this and lose your mind' caveat applies: These are heavily used, frequently shipped lenses. A lens owned by someone who uses it on weekends, takes good care of it, and doesn't ship it around the country would have a much lower failure rate.

Lenses with High Failure Rates

First, let's give you an idea of how well things last in general. I screened over 350 lenses for failure rates. The distribution by rental weeks per failure is shown in the table below (It's not a bell curve because I lumped all the long-term survivors into the category > 140 weeks). Overall I find it pretty impressive how well lenses hold up under harsh conditions.

 

The 19 photography lenses with repair rates more frequent than every 60 weeks are listed below.

LensWeeks to FailureSample SizeCommon Problems
Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 VC37SmallOptics (4), Focus jam (3), Zoom jam (2), VR
Sony 18-200 OSS LE37SmallZoom jam (4), electronics (3)
Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 VR II39LargeZoom jam (16), Optics (15), tripod footplate (8)
Nikon 14-24 f/2.840LargeZoom jam (17), Optics (3), Aperture (2)
Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 OS40
SmallMotor (3), OS unit (2), Optics (2)
Sigma 50-500 OS41ModerateMotor (3), OS unit (3), zoom (3), optics (3)
Canon 14mm f/2.8 II41LargeOptics (11), focus assembly (2)
Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 VC42Moderatefocus jam (4), Optics (2), VC (2)
Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS II42Very LargeOptics (29), IS (7) , loose barrel (7), zoom jam (6)
Sigma 120-300 OS45SmallAF Motor (3), OS system (2)
Canon 70-200 f/4 IS51ModerateOptics (5), electrical (2)
Sony 70-200 f/2.851SmallAF motor (4)
Canon 24-70 f/2.8 58Very LargeOptics (21), Zoom jam (3), focus jam (2)
Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 II58ModerateAF/MF Clutch (6), loose barrel (5), AF motor (2), Diaphragm (1)

 

To give you some perspective, I've included a table of video items we carry, because generally video gear is more fragile than photo gear (and probably gets abused more). The first two items are two of our highest repair video items, the CP.2 lenses are our most durable item, the rest just a couple of random picks I was interested in.

Item Weeks to Failure Sample Size Common problems
Cooke Panchro Cine Lens6SmallFocus cams break (6)
Sony FS 7U camcorder26ModerateBroken viewfinder (4), Broken handle (3), Loose LCD (3)
Manfrotto 504 HD fluid head47ModerateLeg locks (6), pan spring (4)
Black Magic Camcorder60ModerateBroken SSD reader assembly (5)
Zeiss CP.2 lenses140+LargeOptics (2). focus (2)

 

Cameras

You may have noticed no cameras made the list this year, which is a good thing. The highest repair rate camera was the Nikon D800 (65 weeks to repair), mostly because of autofocus problems. Nothing else was less than 80 weeks to repair. I should mention that part of the reason is I didn't include some common problems as repairs: the D700's peeling grips, D600's dust issues, and buttons popping off of the OM-D  I didn't consider failure since most people will take care of them at home. Even if I did include those things, though, those cameras would still not have made the list.

However, some common problems we saw a year ago like the 5D Mk III having bent CF pins and the D800 battery doors snapping off seem to have been fixed and have ceased to be an issue at all. Camera bodies, both SLR and mirrorless, had the lowest repair rates we've seen in 5 years.

Removed From the List

Off the list this year are the Canon 35mm f/1.4 and 100-400 IS; Nikon 105 f/2.8 VR Micro and 16-35m f/4 VR; and Tokina 16-26 f/2.8. For completeness I'll mention that the Canon and Nikons above were barely off, all of them in the 60-70 weeks to repair range. The Tokina did seem to be better this year, with nearly 90 weeks per repair.

A Few Observations

Several other lenses on the list have small sample sizes, so there is more concern that they may just be a random event - just a few less repairs and they wouldn't be here. I think that may be true for the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 VC - it hasn't been here before and there seem to be several different problems going on. The Sony 18-200 OSS LE is a new lens that has already had one recall. Since many of it's problems were electronic I suspect it's something that will be fixed before next year's report.

The other small sample-size lenses are here every year, for the same problems, so I do think they really are fragile lenses.

Other conclusions I think are valid:

  • Every manufacturer has some great lenses and some weak lenses.
  • 70-200 f/2.8 lenses are likely to fail no matter who makes them. We think of them as 'built like tanks' because they have that heavy, all-metal case. That case, though, is as packed with mechanics and electronics as anything you've ever seen. There's a LOT of stuff in there that has to work perfectly. Inevitably, some of that stuff breaks.
  • Sigma's big zooms still have trouble with their HSM motors and OS units, but Sigma really does seem to be doing better. Their large zoom lenses are still on the list but the frequency is lower than it used to be, in a year when my new accounting system made most numbers look worse. Sigma's prime lenses and smaller zooms have excellent repair rates.

The insides of 70-200 lenses are densely packed with working parts. 

The Most Reliable Lenses

I get asked every year to name the most reliable lenses, but I decline. There are two reasons. First, the repair curve is rather one-tailed - we have outliers that get repaired a lot, but because we sell everything at two years of age, there is a huge glop of lenses with low repair rates. I can give you a simple generalization, though: If you want to buy a lens that will last decades, then you want a completely mechanical prime lens.

It's just logic. Electronic components get hot, or moist, and eventually capacitors leak or solders break.

 

 

Zoom mechanisms move a lot and eventually the components supporting the zooming elements wear out. (Focus elements move too, but not as much and generally with a lot smaller mass.

All focusing motors will fail eventually. They are electronic and they move.

An IS unit is electronic, has a motor, and moves hundreds of times a second.

All of that being said, do I want an autofocus lens that zooms and has a stabilized image? Yes, I do. But the simple reality is the more complex a lens is, the more likely it is going to be to fail someday. It is no coincidence that the lenses that last 120+ weeks at Lensrentals are generally primes without image stabilization, and the ones that frequent the most repaired list are usually zooms with image stabilization.

I'll pause a second here for those of you who don't believe in the laws of physics to say, "Well, my IS zoom has lasted 10 years without a problem." That's cool; statistics suggest many IS autofocus zooms will last 10 years if you're careful with them.

But if we look at large numbers the failure rate will be higher for zooms than primes, for lenses with IS than lenses without it, and even for autofocus lenses than for manual focus lenses. I'm not certain about mechanical versus electronic apertures - we see similar numbers of failures in both.

Factory Service Center Report

I care about this a more than most of you, probably, since I send things in for repair every single day while many of you have never sent anything in for repair. But someday you will need a repair, trust me on that.

Remember that service varies greatly geographically. We are U.S. only; service is very different in Europe, Asia, even Canada. The data below is only pertinent to you if you live in the U. S.

In general, factory service got better in late 2012 and 2013. I suspect widespread consumer complaining, particularly about Nikon USA, accounts for some of that. I know that some companies began looking at service as an opportunity to enhance their own reputation. Tamron announce with their '3 day guarantee repair' turnaround time and Sigma an enhanced 'commitment to quality assurance' program. Nikon started to sell some consumer replaceable parts on their website.

Turnaround Time

Repair turnaround time had a few changes compared to last year. Olympus had some disarray this year. (In case you weren't aware, Olympus suddenly closed their repair center and for several weeks no one knew where anything was, or even where you could send a repair.) Their average turnaround time is higher because several items were gone for several months during the chaos, but even if I took those away they still would be the slowest by a good margin.
Sony made a huge improvement compared to last year, dropping from around 30 days on average to 12. Nikon actually is improving more than it appears at first glance. Repair turnaround time has decreased from nearly 30 days in late 2012, to around 20 days now. Most of the other Factory Service Centers stayed about the same.
I didn't list Leica because they don't really have a U. S. repair center; most things have to go to Germany. Their turnaround time is leisurely at nearly 35 days, but this includes shipping, reshipping, customs clearance, etc.

 

Repair Costs 

Repair costs went up just a bit this year, but not anything like the sudden jump we saw in early 2012.

 

 

Tokina is absent from the table because we stopped sending anything in to them years ago. If we can't fix it ourselves, we use an independent service center. They may be much better now, but I have no information either way.

Before you start dancing a jig about your brand's low repair costs or complaining about its high costs, remember that repairs are generally a flat, tiered rate based on the item's sale price. That means for a $500 lens, a basic repair is probably $80-$100, while for a $2,000 lens the basic repair is likely $200-$225.  When you consider mirrorless gear generally costs a lot less than SLR gear and third-party lenses cost less than brand-name lenses, it should be obvious some of the price difference in this graph is just from that.

Obviously, the 4 companies with the highest repair prices are repairing the most expensive equipment. From a purely 'price of equipment' standpoint, Panasonic, Sigma, Tamron, and Olympus are about the same, while Sony fits in between the two groups (which is expected given it's mixture of equipment).

One thing I've started seeing that I really don't like: some companies (Sony particularly) have started charging a nonrefundable repair estimate fee. If you send your lens in with a scratched element and decide after seeing the $600 replacement cost that you'll just live with it, it can cost you $135 to get your lens back.  This is something you want to check before you send an item in for repair (unless you know it's so totally broken you'd throw it away if it can't be fixed).

One reason I really don't like this is simple: even a non-working lens or camera is worth something sold for parts (check eBay - some things go for more than half the new price when sold as 'not working, for parts only'). If anything, the company should be paying you for keeping your 'not repairable' item. I guarantee you they aren't throwing it away.

The other reason I don't like it is it's cheating. If you call and ask the replacement costs for  a 16-350mm Bazooma front element, they usually tell you we have to look at before we can give you a quote, even though it's a flat-rate fee. So basically they're saying, "it will cost you $135 for us to tell you how much the charge is." I can understand needing to see the lens before deciding the fee for more complex things, of course.

I will point out that this year I didn't even consider sensor replacements in figuring repair costs because we've simply stopped replacing scratched and damaged sensors. At $1,000 to $1,800 for a full-frame sensor replacement, it doesn't make economic sense anymore; we either convert the cameras to infrared or part them out. I mention this because I've always said, "learn how to clean your own sensor." I'm getting hesitant to say that to someone who's never done it before. Scratching a sensor during cleaning is rare, but nowadays it's a devastating expense if it does happen.

Battery & Chargers

I didn't include this in the main part of the article, because honestly I think it might be us -- simply because I haven't heard much about it in any online forums. When I looked at replacement parts we've purchased this year one thing really jumped out at me: battery chargers.

We have several hundred battery chargers, obviously. When they break, we buy a replacement charger. For chargers in general, we replace about 2% per year. With two exceptions. All smaller Nikon chargers (MH-18a, MH-22, MH-24, MH-25, MH-26, and Mh-27) are replaced at a rate of 14% to 16% per year. All Fuji chargers (BC45W, BC50, BC65N) are replaced at a rate of 17% to 21% per year. No other charger is over 2%.

Since I haven't seen anyone complaining about this online, I have to consider it's something we do. My first thought is that we 'top off' batteries constantly. A battery comes back from rental with 2/3 of a charge, but we fully charge it before sending it out. This isn't what most people do at home. So it may be those chargers get stressed somehow by our topping them off day-in and day-out. The other brand's chargers might have some circuitry that isn't bothered by that.

But any of you have other suggestions, please let me know and help me figure this one out.

 

ADDENDUM!!  Looking at the list and saying "Canon has the highest repair rate because they have the most lenses on the list" is pretty silly. We carry far more Canon lenses than any other brand. So they would be expected to have far more lenses in the 'high repair' list. The fact that they don't dominate the list actually indicates they have a lower repair rate (they do, slightly, but it's certainly not significantly lower). 

Looking at things statistically (as best as can be done) there really isn't a significant difference either by all lenses, or by fraction of lenses with higher repair rates between any of the brands.  There are some slight overall differences in repair rate by brand but none that seem statistically significant, or even close to it. 

 I repeat, every brand has some fragile lenses. If you must Fanboy go ahead. But don't start your comment with "Roger Said" 'cause Roger didn't.

 

Roger Cicala

Lensrentals.com

August, 2013

 

129 Responses to “Lensrentals Repair Data: 2012-2013”

Kai said:

Roger,

Thanks for providing the data as usual. One question though: the Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 VR II occurs twice in the list of shortest rentalweeks to repair rates, but with two different reason lists:
1) Zoom jam (16), Optics (15), tripod footplate (8)
2) Optics (29), IS (7) , loose barrel (7), zoom jam (6)
What gives?

/PS: I think you forgot to change the month/year in the footer signature - we're in August 2013, not September 2012. Well, at least I am :-)

LensRentals Employee

Roger Cicala said:

Kai, thank you! The second one was the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS II. I spent so much time doing spreadsheets analysis (about 20 hours) before I finally typed up the tables that I just got brain dead - and WordPress has a lovely feature that the tables don't show up in editing mode. I've corrected that, and the date.

Roger

Jay Frew said:

Thanks Roger!

By publishing this data, you and your company provide a unique and Extremely Valuable, Free Service to photographers.

Cheers! Jay

Jeremy said:

It sounds like from a long term lens reliability perspective, a system that supported IS in body and had simpler AF (screwdriver) may have an advantage? (At least for those of us that keep their gear more than 2 years.)

Ian Anderson said:

The Canon 14mm f/2.8 II certainly sticks out considering it's a prime and lacks IS. Maybe it's time for one of Roger's famous disassemblies to see why the lenses are having issues...

LensRentals Employee

Roger Cicala said:

Jeremy, I agree with the in-body IS (assuming you change cameras every couple of years but keep lenses long term). Screw drive focusing though is often less accurate or slower, and drive screws strip. Not saying it's worse, but it probably isn't better.

LensRentals Employee

Roger Cicala said:

Ian - It is always optical adjustments with those, every time. I haven't figured it out quite yet, but I can say it's one of the most difficult for us to adjust in-house. A tiny variation in tilt or centering at the rear element makes massive distances in optical resolution.

LensRentals Employee

Roger Cicala said:

Thank you Jay! I needed that. This year it took me almost 30 hours to crunch the data and write this up (which is why there haven't been any blog posts for a while).

Siming said:

I wonder how much of what we're seeing is due to the primary uses of the lens. What I mean is this: I bet a lot of the 70-200 2.8 rentals are for sports or wildlife, whereas something like the 85 1.2 would be mostly for in-studio portrait work. That's a big difference in working environment, which may be one of the reasons we see the 70-200 so often in the shortlist. Thoughts, Roger?

LensRentals Employee

Roger Cicala said:

Siming - I do agree that has to have some effect (and was one of my thoughts when I looked at 35mm f/1.4 AF/MF switches - that's not a lens I picture getting banged around often). 70-200s tend to be action and sports lenses and do probably get banged around more. They also are heavier, so there would be more momentum if it drops or get's banged on something.

On the other hand, 300 f/2.8 and all the long telephoto primes are probably used in similar situations and are on the 'hardly ever repaired' list. I also noticed that 70-200 f/4 lenses are not high repair items - but the Canon 70-200 f/4 IS lens has quite a bit higher repair rate than the f/4 NON IS. Similarly the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 NON IS is significantly lower than the IS.

So I think perhaps the combination of densely packed working parts, zoom, IS and use make the 70-200s high on the list. I'm an IS fan and want it on my lenses but inevitably it's going to be a thing that breaks.

Daniel G. said:

It's a shame about the Rokinon/Samyang lenses. They seem to have nice optics, but $500 is pretty steep for a lens that seems like it'll break easily and can't be fixed. Yeah it's drastically cheaper than many alternatives, but that's a heck of a lot of money for a paperweight!

Joe said:

That Canon/Nikon/etc don't pay LR to collect this data and report back is kind of sad. "Silent Changes" that improve the lens life would be appreciated by all gear addicts.

LensRentals Employee

Roger Cicala said:

Daniel, remember these are heavily used and not as carefully cared for as a personal lens would be. Being forewarned they are fragile will hopefully help people keep them running longer.

And that $500 compares pretty well when you consider you can buy one for 25% of the price of the top 'name brand' alternatives, and compares well with the $400 or so you'll pay to repair that same name-brand lens.

Siming said:

Ahh yes I hadn't thought of the telephoto primes. Thanks Roger.

PS: Also, I'm an engineer, so I get giddy when you have data to back up everything :D

Eddie Wrei said:

I always look forward to this post the most. As an old, retired Quality Engineer, I miss collecting, analyzing and reporting results like this. Great job, thorough and very good data for people to use...and free too! Your assumptions are very important for people making lens purchasing decisions, whether they are considering new or used. Thank you, sir!

Kenan said:

I just want to say to everyone... do not drop Canon 50mm f1.4 lenses on their sides. Don't even let these lenses fall a few inches. The first time mine broke, it was from a mighty 4-5 inch tumble from the top of a guitar case. Good lens but there's something inside that controls the focus and can break very, very easily if they hit the ground on their sides. I've done this by accident more than once and have a venerable 50mm f1.4 paperweight sitting around right now that I'm trying to decide what to do with. Again. Repair? Sell? Buy a new one? Buy something else? Just do not drop your 50mm f1.4...

Tomas said:

I would love to know if the Voigtlander Nokton lenses ever have to be repaired. I ask because I dropped one of mine a few weeks back and I think it broke my toe.

LensRentals Employee

Roger Cicala said:

Tomas, they do need repair, but getting it dones is something else entirely - nobody can get parts. We fix some in house simply by scavenging parts so we can make one good lens out of two broken ones. Replacing the bent hood on one with the good hood from another with a scratched rear element for example.

Robert Panick said:

Hey Roger, since you've called it out so many times before. Has the new Sigma 120-300 f2.8 been more reliable than the old one? I know it's still new yet, so the data might not be complete yet.

Kay O. Sweaver said:

Call me crazy but I'd like to see a lens assembled from all the broken parts. Zombielens!

Andreas said:

I love your scientific approach and I'm a happy customer but as a scientist: could you please label your y-axis(axes in general) correctly? Sometimes it's in the title, sometimes not. The first one is particularly confusing because the title is the x-axis label there. Keep up the good work!

Mike said:

Thank you so much, Roger for your titanic and very useful job!
Very informative as always. And, please, let me one short question:
what about AF-S Nikkor 70-200_4,0 VR?
I didn't find any mention of it.
Thank you in advance.
Best regards, Mike.

Tony Bologna said:

This is one of the single greatest contributions to photographers on the web. As always, FANTASTIC!

The Canon 50mm 1.4 used to be on here for AF motor failure. Do you still see this often or do you suspect Canon silently fixed this during the production process?

LensRentals Employee

Roger Cicala said:

Mike, we don't have a ton of copies, but so far the Nikon 70-200 f/4 VR has been trouble free!

LensRentals Employee

Roger Cicala said:

Tony, we still see some motor failures, but not quite as frequently as prior years. It's off the list this year, but if recall not way off -- something like 70 weeks per failure if I recall correctly.

Chris said:

20 hours crunching numbers! That's dedication, I've got to say I also really appreciate all the effort you put into your posts. Keep up the good work. Thanks again. Chris

SwampYankee said:

Thanks for this. My favorite post of the year. It's also an excellent guide to those buying used equipment. Lets folks know what to look for.

Jeffrey D said:

I've had to send way too many Canon lenses off for in warranty service. It gets to be rather disappointing. In fact I had a 24-105 f/4 that ended up going back 4 times. The 4th time they finally replaced the zoom assembly, but only after I included a video with the lens demonstrating the problem.

Jasmine said:

Roger, thank you so much for your efforts in compiling and sharing this data. You mentioned that "The highest repair rate camera was the Nikon D800 (65 weeks to repair), mostly because of autofocus problems." Is this in reference to the infamous left autofocus issue or something else ?

LensRentals Employee

Roger Cicala said:

Jasmine, it was largely the left AF issue, but there have been a few other AF problems - I believe from the AF sensor becoming misaliged with use.

Bill Adkins said:

Roger: Great report, nothing but the best.

rondhol said:

All Rokibowyang in the list except the fisheye 8mm APS-C lens. Is it also as bad as others in the build quality that held together with small screws and glue?

It makes me think to get 17-40mm instead of 14mm rokibowyang for 2x price. How do you think Roger?

Alexander said:

As a Nikon owner, this sheet is kinda discouraging to see :-)

Torben Christiansen said:

Hi

Great great article. You really have a great knowledge database that is of great value to anyone that cares about photography. I think you might even get to generate an extra income on this information. Let me give you an example that I think many amateurs that comes to. You lens get broken and you have to consider is it worth getting it repair compared to getting a new lens. Just getting a quote for a repair costs (here in Denmark) $100, so being able for example select the lens and the expected type of repair and getting an average quote on the cost of the repair sure would help a lot. You have displayed the information for each company and I bet you have the information in your spreadsheet. I know I would pay $10 for a average quote for how much it would cost to repair the focusing motor on the first Nikon edition of the 70-200 2.8 VR...

Jakob Teuffel said:

Thanx Roger for your Great Work!!!

You mentioned that it's not as Importent how much a repair is but how much it is compared to the Item's New Price.
So a relative Relative repair-/new-price Chart by Manufacturer would be extremely interesting.
Don't get me wrong. You earned my full respect and thanks for all the work you did and spread for free, but if it's possible to add this chart (e.g. Next year) I'd be really happy.
Kind Regards
Jake

Dewan Demmer said:

A nice read. An interesting perspective based on data I, myself, as a consumer could never collect. The opinion given is fair and even handed which means any opinion given is worth noting.

LensRentals Employee

Roger Cicala said:

Rondhol,

Both are good lenses. I actually own a Bower 14mm because I like the wide-wide, f/2.8 and it's amazingly sharp. When I travel, though, I grab a 17-40 because of it's flare resistance and the usefulness of the zoom. I wouldn't make the decision based simply on reliability unless I was really tough on lenses with lots of travel and constant use. If that's the case, though, the 17-40 is a rock, it never breaks.

Samuel H said:

* THANKS THANKS THANKS THANKS THANKS

* I woulnd't have expected such high failure rate from the RokiBowYangs. They feel quite good when holding them. Go figure.

* Nikon should be ashamed: two flagshilp lenses near the top of the list (14-24 f/2.8 and 70-200 f/2.8 VR), plus slow and expensive repairs

* Now that you mention the slower demand for the D600 and D800... LensRentals is also in a great position to provide information about market share: would you care to provide relative revenue numbers for "cameras" and "lenses" by different manufacturers? B&H data would be even better, but they're not nearly as nice and open as you are :)
(yes, I know it can be a bloodbath in the comments, but nothing is worse than an uninformed argument)

Bob B. said:

GREAT data and discussion!
Now I can go out and tell everybody "what Roger said"!!! LOL.
Seriously though,Thanks for publishing this info. There is some bravery involved there.

Markus said:

Hey Roger,

as Jay already mentioned, this data collection is extremely useful and sth. which cannot be obtained easily otherwise. This is real knowledge from actually using and wearing stuff, sth. the manufacturers try to hide from end users as much as they can (which makes me ask why as positive trends, e.g. for the D800 are quite good arguments in favour of the product and the manufacturer!).
It's definitely good to know not only which lens/camera is designed very well optically but also which one does mean less hassle for the user. At least in term of design flaws and systematic failure.
Plus you guys have the very special opportunity to give us some insight on trends: Which stuff is improving by silent modification or improved quality control, etc.

It would be even interesting to get more information: The worst 20 or 30 lenses (you already named some close competitors) and also some general observations on the least fragile lenses/cameras or brands/series of lenses (if such an evaluation can be made in a way that makes sense).

Thanks a lot for the very labour-intensive work and keep on going!

Markus

P.S.: I t would be interesting to know if the manufacturers do pay attention and do react (e.g. on the topic of chargers & batteries)

Markus said:

By the way: Is the Canon 24-70/2.8 in your list the version II of that lens or is ist still the older model which tends to wear out as you have already mentioned in another blog post?

Lester said:

Fantastic! We would be able to draw some very interesting statistical conclusions if we knew the standard error of the averages you show. For example, the drop in average repair time for Nikon from 30 days to 20 days. If the standard error was 6 or 7 days or more, then this would suggest that the drop was not significant, ie it was statistical noise; but if the standard error was 3 or 4 days or less, then the drop would be "statistically significant". For example, average rental weeks to repair for the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS II is 42, but for the Mk I is 51. If the SE is 5 or larger, then the difference between 42 and 51 is likely noise; but if the SE is 4 or less then the difference is likely to be statistically significant. SE is quite easy to calculate. Any time you calculate an average for some data, just calculate the standard deviation as well, and divide by the square root of the number of data items. Then, rule of thumb is, any difference larger than 2 SEs is probably significant...

LensRentals Employee

Roger Cicala said:

Samuel, I don't know that our data would reflect general use. For example we rent a lot less Nikon this year, but I suspect that's largely because we rented a ton of D800s, D600s, and new Nikon lenses early on when people were deciding to buy. There's fewer new products and feeding frenzies going on this year. Similarly we rent way more m4/3 lenses than you'd expect from the number of cameras, but much of that is being rented by video people because there are a lot of m4/3 video mounts.

B&H or other big retailers know much more than we would about various popularities, but I'm sure they're under nondisclosures for that kind of stuff.

LensRentals Employee

Roger Cicala said:

Markus, the Canon on the list is the version I, the old one, which has always graced the list. The version II is fairly new and except for what seems to be an amazing ability for the front element to scratch (we don't count scratches, but this has gotten my attention) seems pretty trouble free, at least early on.

LensRentals Employee

Roger Cicala said:

Lester, the data sets are markedly nonparametric so I think a true statistical analysis would require a nonparametric analysis of variance or regression analysis. It's been a decade since I did statistical analysis for scientific publications, but I remember enough to remember I don't want to do those anymore :-)

rondhol said:

24-105mm L is also very solid. I did not see it in the list for many years. Besides that, it is nice cheaper because came as kit. It has IS and autofocus. I am also wondering how Tamron 24-70VR in long terms compared to the 24-70mm II canon.

BigEater said:

Rodger--for those of us who are in business, could you explain the business reason you decided to have defective lenses repaired rather than simply exchanging them? Was that a request from the people who sell you the lenses?

LensRentals Employee

Roger Cicala said:

BigEater, that's a large part of the reason, we were able to negotiate some more favorable terms. It also turns out that there are some difficulties with buying, returning, and rebuying an item from an accounting standpoint. To a lesser degree, and depending on a variety of factors, returning often meant weeks until we could get a replacement, while in-house repair meant it could be renting the next day and with some brands even sending to the factory got it back in-hand more quickly than we could buy a new copy.

LensRentals Employee

Roger Cicala said:

Rondhoi, the Canon 24-105 is one of the bulletproof lenses that never seems to fail. The Tamron 24-70 f/2.8, Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 and original Canon 24-70 f/2.8 have always been on the list or nearly on the list -- not awful but not great. The new Canon is too soon to tell, although as I mentioned earlier the new flouride coating on the front element seems to scratch if you blow on it hard.

someone said:

Roger said: "...I’ve always said, “learn how to clean your own sensor.” I’m getting hesitant to say that to someone who’s never done it before. Scratching a sensor during cleaning is rare, but nowadays it’s a devastating expense if it does happen."

Sounds like you have a great idea for your next blog post, "How to properly clean a sensor" (unless I missed it in a past blog). You've cleaned more than anyone else I'm sure, so please teach us how!

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