Last update: 2012-5-28

Nothing is perfect.  Digital cameras and lenses are complex systems.  Often there are unexpected problems.  This list is NOT made to tell people to avoid these cameras – instead it is my intention to let people know of these limitations before they buy these systems, so these problems do not show up as nasty surprises, and help them choose.

This list is not exhaustive.  Cameras that do not show up in this list do not mean they have no defect.  Only worthy cameras are listed here.  There are more entries for Canon and Nikon here only because they make the best cameras and have the largest user base, so any issue will be found and reported.  Unworthy cameras (with sensor size at 1/2.3″ or smaller) are completely ignored.

I’ve informed several camera news sites about this article, but most of them have ignored me (except Sonyalpharumors).  I don’t blame them, perhaps this article would mean fewer sales and therefore fewer advertising revenue for them.  I just hope potential customers will find this article useful and help with their purchases.  If you find it useful, please post the link to this article in your blog or forums.

Disclaimer: I own an Olympus OM-D E-M5.

Canon EOS 1D Mark III

Type: Weakness (not a defect)

Problem: AI Servo AF does not perform up to standards expected by professionals shooting sports

Description: See this link

Solution: Repair by Canon and upgrade to the latest firmware for some improvement.  Upgrade to newer EOS camera.

Canon EOS 5D (Classic)

Type: Reliability

Problem: Mirror falls off.

Description: This is described in the Canon USA article “EOS 5D Main Mirror Detachment Issue“.  In the worst case it may damage the sensor or lens.  It is best to get it repaired before this actually happens.

Solution: Repair by Canon.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Type: Weakness (not a defect)

Problems: (1) Poor AF (2) Banding (Pattern noise)

Description: The poor AF in 5D Mark II is by design.  It was meant to reuse the 5D Classic AF system instead of the latest AF technology available at the time of the introduction of Mark II.

Solution: None.  Upgrade to Mark III:  AF is reportedly excellent.  Banding is much reduced and will not be seen normally unless one performs a shadow recovery.  Those people who need shadow recovery should consider Nikon D800.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III

1. Type: Incompatibility

Problem: Loud IS noise with Canon EF 200mm f/2.0 L IS USM Lens and the Canon EF 800mm f/5.6 L IS USM Lens.

Description: See this link

Solution: (to be updated)

2. Type: Minor flaw

Problem: Light leakage through top LCD panel

Description: Korean users have discovered a light leakage through top LCD panel to the camera meter, affecting long exposure photography at night.  In dpreview forum quite a number of users have been able to reproduce this problem by turning on the top LCD panel illumination, not many of them are able to affect the meter using an external light on top, and some of them cannot reproduce this at all.  It also appears some other Canon models behave similarly.  This problem is described in a Canon advisory which states that those units where the sixth digit in the serial number is 1 or 2 are affected.

Solution: Repair by Canon (using a black tape).

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM

Type: Image quality / QC

Problem: Focus problem at close distance causing out of focus photos especially from f/2 – f/4.

Description: When one presses the shutter, the aperture is shrunk from f/1.2 to the needed aperture.  This causes the focus to shift.  This problem does not exist in all copies of this lens.  Some, but not all, copies manufactured recently reportedly do not suffer from this problem.

Solution: None.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

Type: Reliability

Problem: Stuck focus

Description: Quite a few people have their EF 50mm f/1.4 failing to focus due to being stuck.

Solution: Read this link and some video.  A coworker of mine followed these instructions and added some WD-40 to lubricate the problematic part and successfully fixed it.

Canon Speedlite 580EX II

Type: Reliability

Problem: Fail prematurely

Description: See this link

Solution: None.

Canon PowerShot G1 X

Type: Image quality

Problem: Light leak

Description: Light leak shows up in the photo if there is a light source in the bottom at high ISO and a fast shutter speed is used.

Solution: None. Canon admitted this problem but will not repair it.

Canon PowerShot G9

Type: Reliability

Problem: Cannot power up

Description: A screw becomes loose and shorted the camera circuit board.

Solution: Repair by Canon or read this link.

Fujifilm X100

Type: Firmware issues

Problem: X100 has more firmware issues than usual

Description: Read this link at dpreview

Solution: Upgrade to latest firmware to solve a few of these issues

Fujifilm X10

Type: Image quality

Problem: White Blob / Dot / Spot syndrome

Description: White blob shows up in photos as a result of sensor blooming at low ISO.

Solution: Upgrade to latest firmware and shoot at ISO 800.  Wait for a new sensor that is scheduled for May 2012.

Konica Minolta 7D / 5D

Type: Defect

Problem: First Black Frame

Description: After turning on the camera after leaving it for some period, the first shot may be a black frame and the camera freezes.  It resumes normal operation after being turned off and on again.  This is caused by a part that has bad dimensions.

Solution: Repair by Sony.

Nikon D5000

Type: Reliability

Problem: Camera cannot be operated

Description: Electronic component(s) related to power control were defective in some batches of D5000.  See this Nikon service advisory.

Solution: Repair by Nikon.

Nikon D70, D2H, F55 / N55

Type: Reliability

Problem: Blinking green light of death

Description: This symptom has affected various Nikon DSLR: D70, D2H, F55 / N55.  See this Nikon service advisory.

Solution: Repair by Nikon (before 29 February 2012 in case of D70).

Nikon D800

1. Type: Firmware issue

Problem: Occasional lock-up with the original firmware

Description: Some people found that their D800 (and some other Nikon models) as well lock up occasionally, and the only way to recover from this lock up is to remove the battery.

Solution: Upgrade Firmware. (Previously: Turn off Highlights and RGB Histogram in Playback Display Options.  Some people have suspected the issue to be related to the storage medium and/or mode of operation, since different storage cards cause the D800 to behave differently.)

2. Type: QC

Problem: A batch of D800 has viewfinder / focus alignment issues

Description: Read this link

Solution: Repair by Nikon

Nikon D90

Type: Reliability

Problem: Blinking green light of death

Description: Not admitted or confirmed by Nikon.  See this link.

Solution: Repair by Nikon.  Also see this link.

AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED

Type: Focus issue / QC

Description: There are enough reports of focus issues to indicate a potential problem with some copies of this lens, but some people have found no problem.

Solution: Repair by Nikon.

AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED

Type: Minor flaw

Problem: Light leak through the distance window

Description See this link and this link.

Solution: Cover the distance window with a black tape.

Olympus OM-D E-M5

1. Type: Cosmetic

Problem: Paint peels off

Description: None.

Solution: None.

2. Type: Incompatibliity

Problem: Cannot wakeup from standby with Panasonic lenses

Description: When the E-M5 goes into standby, sometimes it will freeze and no longer wakup when a Panasonic lens is attached.  This does not always happen.  When it happens, some users find that unplugging the battery is necessary.

Solution: (To be updated).

3. Type: Incompatibility

Problem: High ISO banding when using Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 lens

Description: At ISO 1600 or above, sometimes shadow areas may show a banding pattern with Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 lens.  It does not occur with any other lens, and happens independently from the type of lighting, JPEG or RAW, shutter speeds, stabilization settings, etc.  This appears to be caused by some kind of interference from the lens that affects the E-M5 sensor.  Read these threads: thread1, thread2, thread3

Solution: As this issue is acknowledged by Olympus, wait for a solution or workaround.  May also consider using Panasonic Leica Summilux DG 25mm f/1.4 instead.

4. Type: Firmware bugs

Olympus PEN E-P1

Type: Image quality

Problem: Blurry photos with kit lens at 1/100 – 1/200 shutter speed

Description: The movement of the shutter mechanism causes vibration in the kit lens element.

Solution: Upgrade to latest firmware.  Avoid these shutter ranges.

Panasonic (GF5, GX1 and GF3X kit lens) Lumix G X Vario PZ 14-42mm, 45-175mm

Type: Image quality

Problem: Blurry (edge doubling) photos at 1/60 – 1/200 shutter speed

Description: The Power OIS system on these two X lenses causes blurry photos at 1/60 – 1/200 shutter speed regardless of OIS on or off, using a tripod or not, with a Panasonic or Olympus body.  Firmware upgrade to 1.1 helps some users but not all of them.  Using a heavier body such as GH2 may have less problem than a lighter body such as G3.  Many users have this problem to varying degrees, but some of them do not.  People have notified Panasonic but there does not seem to be an official response to this issue.  Note that this problem is very similar to that of Olympus PEN E-P1.

Solution: For the 14-42 X, try Kevdog’s Wobble Fix – use your finger to support the extending portion of the lens while shooting.  Change to Lumix G 14-45mm (better image quality), 45-200mm (heavier but does not offer better image quality).

Pentax K-5

Type: QC

Problem: Sensor Stains

Description: See this link

Solution: Repair by Pentax

Pentax Super Sonic Drive Motor (SDM) Lenses

Type: Reliability

Problem: SDM Lenses appear to be more prone to failure than other types of Pentax lenses and other brands of lenses.

Description: See this link and this link.

Solution: Repair by Pentax

Sony A700

1. Type: Reliability

Problem: Main Mirror Retainer Falloff

Description: After a certain number of shutter actuations, small pieces come off from inside the camera.

Solution: Repair by Sony or replace the parts.

2. Type: Reliability

Problem: Skipping Control Wheel

Description: Menu items are skipped when using the control wheel due to dust or poor contact.

Solution: See this link and the comment to this post by oldmanv

3. Type: Reliability

Problem: Hot shoe broken

Description: The hot shoe can be broken by dropping or other means.

Solution: See this link and this link.

Sony NEX-5N

Type: Video

Problem: NEX-5N produces a “clicking” noise in video recording when there is camera movement.

Description: See this link for the cause and Sony’s response

Solution: Repair by Sony

Sigma lenses for Canon mount

Type: Weakness

Problem: Inaccurate AF on Canon bodies

Description: Many sigma lenses have less accurate AF on Canon bodies than Canon EF or EF-S lenses do.  Some people do not suffer from this problem, but some people do.  AF inaccuracies are model, copy, and body dependent.  Some models are worse than others.

Solution: Recent Sigma lenses can be calibrated by Sigma, but these calibrations may not eliminate the inaccuracies.

Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Di-III VC for NEX

Type: Incompatibility

Problem: Sweep panorama will be heavily blurred (other than the first frame at the left)

Description: People have sent their lenses to Tamron for repairs but there appears to be no improvement for this problem.

Solution: Change to Sony E 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS or do not use sweep panorama.