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Sony Hardware

Digital Camera Failures 316

An anonymous reader writes "In the past week, four major camera makers have quietly published service advisories admitting their digital cameras are dying. In each case, the flaw appears to involve Sony CCD sensors using epoxy packaging that eventually lets in moisture. Sony's own cameras are among those affected, and the company also has dozens of affected camcorder models. Sony is believed to be picking up the tab for the repairs for the other camera makers as well, regardless of warranty status. (If true, a laudable approach.) Given the large numbers of cameras that are potentially involved, this can't be good news for Sony, who apparently already is expecting losses, and who has also recently announced major layoffs."
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Digital Camera Failures

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  • Re:Dammit!! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Milkyman ( 246513 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @12:19AM (#13762090)
    its not the LCD its the CCD, the sensor that picks up the light through the lens, i have one of the effected camcorders and it just shows and records blackness.
  • Education Hit (Score:3, Informative)

    by Kinky Bass Junk ( 880011 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @12:23AM (#13762109)
    My school was badly hit by this - our Film and Video department was largely made of Sony digital cameras, and they all died over time. We have since switched to Panasonic, and they have never had to be replaced.
  • Re:Grammar (Score:2, Informative)

    by Stevyn ( 691306 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @12:34AM (#13762173)
    No, it's "affected"

    Effect is a noun, affect is a verb. How do you put a noun in the past tense?
  • Thank you Amazon (Score:3, Informative)

    by ehiris ( 214677 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @12:47AM (#13762260) Homepage
    When I just recently bought my camera from Amazon, I read reviews on a few of the Canon cameras which were explicitly mentioning that some of the models were very sensitive to high temperature and after failures you couldn't get them fixed because the warranty specifies that it won't cover any damage due to Arizona-like temperatures and high temperature fluctuations. I followed the reviewer's advise and finally decided on the SD400 which doesn't have that problem. It's a good thing that they are now admitting to be at fault. They probably noticed the sales on those models taking a big dip and this is the only way to eliminate the cameras which are stuck in inventory.
  • Re:MOD PARENT UP (Score:1, Informative)

    by The Grey Clone ( 770110 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @12:47AM (#13762261) Homepage
    What in the blue hell? Someone's going through modding everything troll. Methinks the GNAA got ahold of some modpoints.

    Either way, the PS2 does have a lot of reliability issues, the first time mine broke I pulled the ole switcharoo at Wal-Mart. Then I learned more about the PS2 and since then I've opened mine up and used canned air on it several times (and I took some rubbing alcohol to the lens. Fixed it up every time. ps2diy/ [] looks like a decent guide. It does void your warranty, but IIRC, the PS2s only have a 90 day warranty anyway.
  • by NXIL ( 860839 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @12:49AM (#13762265)
    CR says that Sony, Panasonic, Canon, and Olympus have the *fewest* problems. Pentax (sounds like a tampon brand), Konica/Minolta, and Toshiba are the least reliable, with Vivitar being the absolute least reliable. In absolute numbers, about 2.5% of Sony digicams needed repairs, about 10% of Vivitar cameras did. From the survery: "Based on 186,900 reader responses to our 2005 Annual Questionnaire about digital cameras bought new between 2002 and 2005. Data have been standardized to eliminate differences linked to age and usage. Differences of less than 4 points aren't meaningful." For autos, CR's surveys have been dead on, at least for me....every car I have had has aged and been as reliable as they predicted it would be, even down to individual systems (cooling, electrical, etc....) But, yes, for all you statisticians out there, I know that is completely anecdotal, as "n" is very small in my case....I keep my cars a long time....
  • Re:kudos to Sony (Score:5, Informative)

    by TekPolitik ( 147802 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @12:50AM (#13762270) Journal
    For all the Sony-bashing I've done, I have to salute Sony for stepping up to this one, no matter their motivation, though it looks mostly to be customer service and satisfaction.

    Not so. These defects are such as to make the products unmerchantable, which gives the buyer (in this case the manufacturers) a bunch of rights that would cost Sony a lot more if they were exercised. Doing the repairs free will cost Sony a lot less than paying the value of replacement products or repairs by a third party, which is what they would be up for (plus costs) if they were sued.

    There is nothing remotely attributable to honourable conduct here (and if you have dealt with Sony recently you would be aware of how thoroughly dishonourable that behemoth has become). It is self preservation, pure and simple, that has led them down this path.

  • Re:Dammit!! (Score:5, Informative)

    by LoverOfJoy ( 820058 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @12:55AM (#13762296) Homepage
    If you go to the US site there is information about a return there, too. Here's what I found about my Cannon A75.

    It has recently come to our attention that the vendor-supplied CCD image sensor used in this Canon digital camera may cause the following malfunction: When the product is used in recording or playback mode, the LCD screen and/or electronic viewfinder may exhibit either a distorted image or no image at all. While reports of this malfunction have been rare in the United States, we have determined that it may occur if the product is exposed to hot and humid environments.

    Effective immediately, and regardless of warranty status, Canon will repair, free of charge, products exhibiting the above-mentioned malfunction if the malfunction is caused by the CCD image sensor. Canon will also cover the cost of shipping and handling in connection with this repair.

    U.S. residents are kindly directed to contact the Canon Customer Support Center for further assistance at 1-800-828-4040. Support hours are Monday thru Friday - 8:00 AM to 12:00 midnight; and Saturday 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM (all times EST). Alternatively, if electronic support is preferred, please send your email to

    This information is for residents of the United States of America and Puerto Rico only. If you do not reside in the USA or Puerto Rico, please contact the Canon Customer Support Center in your region.

    We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused by this issue, and appreciate your understanding in this matter. Thank you for your support and patronage of Canon products

    found here: ComSmModDisplayAct&keycode=2112&fcategoryid=221&mo delid=9828act=PgComSmModDisplayAct&keycode=2112&fc ategoryid=221&modelid=9828 []

  • Re:They're complex. (Score:5, Informative)

    by JeffSh ( 71237 ) <> on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @01:00AM (#13762333)
    what you say is correct, but none of the canon models affected are in their professional line of cameras, i.e. the 20D or the 350D.

    the ones affected are the powershot line, which are intended for the lower end, high quality consumer use cameras.
  • read the links. (Score:4, Informative)

    by artifex2004 ( 766107 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @01:12AM (#13762394) Journal
    I wonder if I can get a refund...

    Sony says that if you've already paid, to contact one of the listed service centers.
  • Re:HA! (Score:3, Informative)

    by jimboisbored ( 871959 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @01:15AM (#13762411)
    Actually Canon manufactures the CMOS for the slr cameras in house.
  • Re:Dammit!! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Technician ( 215283 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @01:45AM (#13762538)
    I'd like to get it fixed/certified NOW so I don't unexpectedly find it exhibiting these defective behaviors when I'm trying to tape something important like my son's first steps or his first Christmas.

    I have the same problem. I can and I am taking steps to prevent a failure.

    When I was stationed in the tropics, rusty tools was an issue. Contact corrosion was an issue on test equipment. While I was there I keept most of my tools, envelopes, postage stamps, and test equipment in ammo boxes with large packages of silica gel and a humidity indicator. I would nuke the silica gel when the humidity started to creep up. Now that I know the camera can be affected, it is now stored in an ammo box. Corrosion creep should not be an issue when it's stored at 20% or less humidity.
  • by cei ( 107343 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @01:47AM (#13762545) Homepage Journal
    On the other hand, one of the articles lists the Fuji FinePix S2, which is a $1500 dSLR. Not exactly a cheap snapshot camera. (Not sure I buy the S2 being on that list, because the CCD is supposed to be a radically different design than the others listed, but the news article does include it...)
  • by achurch ( 201270 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @02:12AM (#13762631) Homepage
    . . . just for the hell of it: (includes Japanese models as well)

    Digital still cameras

    • Canon:
      • Digital IXUS V3, Digital IXUS II, Digital IXUS II2
      • PowerShot A60, PowerShot A70, PowerShot A75, PowerShot A300, PowerShot A310

    • Fujifilm:
      • FinePix A303 (serial 3100****, 3101****, 3JA4****, 3JA5****)
      • FinePix F410 (serial 3100****-3105****, 32A1****, 32A6****, 32A7****, 32A9****)
      • FinePix F700 (serial 3312****, 3313****, 33A0****, 3402****, 34A1****)
      • FinePix S2Pro (serial 310110**-310115**, 320000**-320008**, 330000**-340001**)

    • Konica Minolta:
      • DiMAGE 7i, DiMAGE 7Hi, DiMAGE A1, DiMAGE F300, DiMAGE S414, DiMAGE Xi, DiMAGE Xt, DiMAGE X20
      • Digital Genba Kantoku DG-2, DG-3Z, DG-4W

    • Sony:
      • DSC-F717
      • DSC-P2, DSC-P7, DSC-P8, DSC-P10, DSC-P12, DSC-P31, DSC-P32, DSC-P51, DSC-P52, DSC-P71, DSC-P72, DSC-P92
      • DSC-U10, DSC-U20, DSC-U30, DSC-U60
      • DSC-V1
      • MVC-CD250, MVC-CD400, MVC-CD500
      • MVC-FD100, MVC-FD200

    Digital video cameras

    • Canon:
      • Elura 40 MC, Elura 50
      • FV40, FV50, FV300, FV400
      • IXY DV3, IXY DV5
      • MV5i, MV5i MC, MV6i MC, MV600i, MV630i, MV650i, MV700i, MV730i, MV750i
      • ZR60, ZR65 MC, ZR70MC, ZR80, ZR85, ZR90

    • Sony:
      • CCD-MC100
      • CCD-TRV106K, CCD-TRV107E, CCD-TRV116, CCD-TRV118, CCD-TRV128, CCD-TRV218E, CCD-TRV228, CCD-TRV228E, CCD-TRV318, CCD-TRV328, CCD-TRV418, CCD-TRV418E, CCD-TRV428, CCD-TRV428E
      • DCR-DVD91E, DCR-DVD100, DCR-DVD100E, DCR-DVD101, DCR-DVD101E, DCR-DVD200, DCR-DVD200E, DCR-DVD300
      • DCR-HC14E, DCR-HC15, DCR-HC15E, DCR-HC16E, DCR-HC18E, DCR-HC20, DCR-HC20E, DCR-HC30, DCR-HC30E
      • DCR-PC101, DCR-PC101E, DCR-PC101K, DCR-PC103E, DCR-PC105, DCR-PC105E, DCR-PC105K, DCR-PC106E, DCR-PC107E, DCR-PC108, DCR-PC108E, DCR-PC115, DCR-PC115E, DCR-PC120, DCR-PC120E
      • DCR-VX2000, DCR-VX200E, DCR-VX2100, DCR-VX2100E

    Professional camcorders

    • Sony:
      • DSR-250, DSR-250P
      • DSR-PD150, DSR-PD150P, DSR-PD170, DSR-PD170P, DSR-PDX10, DSR-PDX10P

    Other products

    • Sony:
      • Clie PEG-NZ90
  • Re:They're complex. (Score:3, Informative)

    by shmlco ( 594907 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @02:24AM (#13762664) Homepage
    Actually, I don't consider the 20D or the 350D to be professional line cameras. That's what the 1-series is for...
  • by Pfhor ( 40220 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @02:40AM (#13762717) Homepage
    My powershot A60 just started doing this, and here I thought it was because of the years of travel with it. Now I just have to fine my local canon rep and get it fixed. Of course, I shoot with a rebel XT now, but atleast I can have my point and shoot working again also.

    Here is a demonstration []
  • by BrianH ( 13460 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @02:55AM (#13762765)
    Plastic lens mounts vs metal lens mounts. Plastic gears vs metal gears. Glass lenses vs plastic lenses. The differences between "consumer" quality gear and "professional" quality gear is quite large. The biggest difference, though, is in the quality of the engineering. Consumer quality electronics tend to be low margin goods, so the emphasis in the engineering phase is for the product to be easy and cheap to manufacture in large quantities...allowing the low margins to be offset by higher volumes. With professional quality equipment, production runs tend to be smaller but margins are far higher. To keep up sales, purchasers have to be assured of the products quality, resulting in better engineering and a better quality product. Canon, Nikon, et al are willing to invest in higher quality components and more involved manufacturing processes for their higher end cameras because they know that they will ultimately reclaim those costs from the buyers.

    This emphasis on improved engineering and component quality with the higher end cameras results in a more reliable product. I have, and still have, many cameras, both digital and film. The cheap ones invariably break. The good ones rarely do.
  • Re:They're complex. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @04:02AM (#13762991)
    Digital cameras are very complex. Of course they'll run into problems now and then. At least they're usually not used for mission-critical applications.

    Yes they're complex. Yes they'll run into problems. But Sony has had similar problems for ATLEAST 20 years, and don't try telling me that people haven't noticed and bitched about it either.

    Consumer digital cameras may be new on the block, but Sony has been making both consumer and professional video cameras for ages now. They have pretty much given the cold shoulder to consumers for the past 20 years, and only preferred customers have gotten free replacements on professional models. I admit I haven't RTFA, but Sony+CCD+Epoxy+Humidity gets me thinking that this is the same issue that has plagued their imaging equipment as far back as I've worked with their products. (Which is about 18 years.)

    Most professionals are very careful with their equipment and use very nice cases to store the cameras, but I for one am EXTRA careful with my Sony cameras. I have a VX1000 and VX2000 that I use on location for documentaries, and so far my care has paid off. I'll keep knocing on wood though, since I had one of my older Sony (professional, not prosumer) cameras die of a similar (if not same) problem just 6 months ago. Since it was old and almost EOL, it wasn't worth the price Sony would charge me, so into the dumpster it went.

    I have no sympathy for Sony on this matter. They've know for eons that they have a problem on hand. More than I wish they replace everything for free, is that I wish they don't make the same mistake from now on. Like it or not, I'll still probably need to buy Sony equipment, hence better reliability is really wanted in this area.
  • Pentax!=tampon (Score:4, Informative)

    by panurge ( 573432 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @04:03AM (#13762992)
    I'd question the judgement of anyone who doesn't know that Pentax is a major optical manufacturer, with more experience than even Canon in making small short focal length lenses of the kind required for digital cameras. They do, however, have a short history of making digital cameras and I suspect that this is part of the reliability issue. I can only say that I have one of their small, ruggedised water resistant cameras for marine use and it hasn't broken yet - but that's just anecdotal.

    However, the real point I'd like to make is this. By their nature, consumer satisfaction reports tend to be way out of date. This is because the records relate to models that have been around for a while, which in a rapidly moving industry means they may not relate to what is on the shelves at all. A case in point from another industry was Volvo, which at one time enjoyed a totally unwarranted reputation for reliability based on the longevity and reliability of one of its post-war models which shared very few parts with later models. (I know this is true because the girlfriend of a friend had one of the reliable Volvos, and side by side you could easily see it was built to a totally different standard from the later ones. It was wrecked by collision with a truck at 132000 miles, at which point the seats were just getting slightly tatty.)

    Nowadays it is indeed possible to predict how long a car will last because so much effort has been put into reliability engineering, and it is relatively easy to see what is under the hood and make an evaluation. But for things like digital cameras this is virtually impossible because the technology is changing fast.It's possible to evaluate things like the robustness of doors, the protection of the lens, scratch resistance of LCD covers etc., but you know nothing about the internal mechanisms or the reliability of the electronics. I suspect that it is not even necessarily true that you get what you pay for because in electronics cost is so volume sensitive.

    My conclusion? Don't worry. Choose on the basis of your preferred mix of features, compatibility, optical quality and weight, and be sure you get a reasonable warranty. But my own preference would always be to buy from a manufacturer who really understands small cameras and short focus lenses. That means Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Leitz (acquired Minox), Pentax and Minolta. Fuji's camera superiority is in medium format. Sony, Panasonic, Toshiba are electronics manufacturers and dependent on the optical people for lenses and expertise in areas like ergonomics.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @04:24AM (#13763073)
    Interesting. My A70 has exactly the same problem as you show in the pictures. However if I slap my camera on the side with moderate force, it goes away. Try it. :)

  • Re:kudos to Sony (Score:3, Informative)

    by glesga_kiss ( 596639 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @07:12AM (#13763511)
    I have to salute Sony for stepping up to this one

    Not so. These defects are such as to make the products unmerchantable*, which gives the buyer (in this case the manufacturers) a bunch of rights that would cost Sony a lot more if they were exercised.

    Which was my exact first thought. Here under UK law, they would still have to fix them for you even if the camera was up to 5 or 6 years old. It's all about how long you would "reasonably" expect something to last. The whole "manufacturers one year warranty" thing exists to confuse consumers as to how much of a legal warranty they already get for free. Many a time have they tried to hit me with the "out of warranty" excuse on expensive items that have died after just over a year.

    * the equivalent magic phrase here in the UK is "fit for purpose".

  • Re:They're complex. (Score:3, Informative)

    by bigman2003 ( 671309 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @07:48AM (#13763604) Homepage
    We don't use film because we have taken film development, negative handling, and scanning completely out of the process.

    When we need something on a very quick turn-around, and then find that the shot we really want is on film...we're screwed.

    Take film out of the equation, and we can ALWAYS manage a quick turn-around.
  • Re:Broken Dimage X20 (Score:3, Informative)

    by ZorinLynx ( 31751 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @08:28AM (#13763749) Homepage
    Back then cameras didn't have auto-white balance; you had to shoot a picture of a white card and press the "white balance" button... Or mess with knobs while looking at the output signal. I bet whoever shot that video didn't do that.

    The problem was exaggerated by the fact that most cameras had black & white viewfinders, so you didn't know you had a problem until you watched the final tape. Whoops!

    Also, most cameras back then used pickup tubes, NOT CCDs; they had all kinds of odd artifacts whose absence we take for granted today.

  • Re:They're complex. (Score:2, Informative)

    by skiphunt ( 922051 ) <> on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @10:15AM (#13764503) Homepage
    Maybe the digicams aren't typically used for "mission-critical" shoots.. but the DV cams listed ARE, ie. DSR-PD150, DSR-PD150P, DSR-PD170, DSR-PD170P, DSR-PDX10, DSR-PDX10P. Many of these cams are used for news gathering, weddings, and documentaries.
  • by BasementNerd ( 800271 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @11:09AM (#13765003) Homepage
    I have a Handycam DCR-TRV38, and a month ago ran into the black LCD problem. After a month of procrastination, I finally called Sony after seeing the announcement on their homepage that they would take care of this problem for free.

    The page can be found here: TRV38&news_id=95 []

    Twenty minutes of nauseating fact-checking pleasantries later, I get resolution. Free shipping, and a working camera "in 10-14 business days."

    Gotta give it up for the right way to take care of this before the old class-action suit sets in.

  • Re:kudos to Sony (Score:5, Informative)

    by glesga_kiss ( 596639 ) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @11:10AM (#13765021)

    From UK Trading Standards []

    If the manufacturer of the goods provides a free guarantee with the goods, this creates a contractual obligation by the guarantor. If the manufacturer fails to honour the guarantee, you could sue the manufacturer for the promises he makes. A guarantee is extra to your rights under the Sale of Goods Act. In some circumstances, you may have a claim under the guarantee, but find that a claim under the Sale of Goods Act would be difficult to prove, or vice versa. You may also in some circumstances have a claim against both, and therefore have a choice of who to claim against. If you are unsure seek advice from your local Trading Standards Service.

    A trader or manufacturer is under no obligation to provide a guarantee, and if they do, they can specify any time span, for example six months, twelve months or three years. They can also specify what is to be covered by the guarantee, and exclude certain parts, or wear and tear. They cannot, however, take away any rights you would have under the Sale of Goods Act

    The above is UK law, and there are several other laws covering this area. See here []. Trading Standards are a good bunch of people, I've had some great advice from them over the years, very helpful. They will take up the case for you and contact the shop/manufacturer on behalf of you (no charge). This is really useful as they have way more clout than any consumer would have. However, saying terms like "Sale of Goods Act" or "Fit for Purpose" will normally make the sales droid stop trying to fob you off.

"Now this is a totally brain damaged algorithm. Gag me with a smurfette." -- P. Buhr, Computer Science 354