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Thread: Sony Lens Quality Control Terrible?

  1. #1
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    Sony Lens Quality Control Terrible?

    Hi All,

    I am not a pixel peeper. In 17 years I have sent back five new lenses with big problems (optical and mechanical), but I am finding that Sony's quality control is just appalling. The five lenses I have sent back before Sony, are explained as below:

    Canon 24 f1.4 L II (would not focus properly).
    Canon 24-70 f2.8 L II (box had suffered severe impact damage and lens was decentered on left and would not focus using left focus points).
    Canon 40mm EF Pancake (decentered and did not sharpen up in entire lower left quadrant until f8.
    Leica 75 Summairt-M (cam not remotely accurately machined and only focused accurately at intinity. As you got closer the error increased to feet.
    CV 21P - severely decentered.

    So there we go. I have shot Canon for over a decade and have bought loads of lenses and I can only put two returns down to QC. The 24-70 II had evidently been used as a football before delivery. I have bought five Zeiss ZM lenses and all have been good. I have about ten Leica lenses of various vintages and all are optically nicely even, even if part of the deal is soft corners at various apertures... they are evenly soft!

    With Sony? Well, not one single lens I have purchased has been good on the first try. It took me three 35mm f2.8 FE Sonnars to get a decent one. It still has one extreme corner that is a bit softer than the others, but its no biggie. Overall it seems very good indeed. My first was horribly decentered on the right side and the second appeared to be really good, albeit with a slightly soft extreme top left.... until I shot from the air at infinity and realised that at this distance, the entire left side varied from OK-sharp to 'so blurry I'd be better off with a 4 MP camera with a good lens'.

    My 28-70 FE kit zoom has a fairly bad bottom left corner, but I have decided to live with it as it is OK when stopped right down, where I tend to use this lens.

    I decided to buy the 55 f1.8 FE and had fingers crossed, but its pretty awfully ailgned. The lower left is 'milk bottle' sharp and the top right is similar. Neither get sharp at any aperture. The top left and bottom right are super sharp like the centre, picking up noticeably at after f2 and peaking about f4.5.

    So, out of a total of five Sony lenses that have been through my hands, only ONE is actually OK and performing to the same sort of consistency I would see from Canon lens. I am not putting these lenses under a microscope here. I am shooting normal stuff and perfectly accepting of imperfection. I am judging things mostly looking at images at 1:2, rather than looking at 1:1, and they are still all over the place.

    C'mon Sony, this is ridiculous. If you have a 'Zeiss' and 'G' line of lenses, look to Canon for what is expected at this price point. I am not expecting perfection. I am, however, expecting not be be jerked around with almost every purchase. I am glad I bough from Amazon as they have no hesitation sending me another 55 f1.8 FE, despite sending back two 35mm FE lenses already. Many stores in the UK would simply laugh at me at this point.

    To put it in perspective, I bought five thirty year old Canon FDn lenses on ebay and every single one is reasonably centred. This says it all.

    Get a grip Sony. This is getting boring. I had been considering the 70-200 f4, but after this, I'd rather just use a Canon with metabones adaptor for landscapes. I just isn't worth the hassle. With Canon, I know the odds of getting a dud are pretty long. Ditto for Zeiss and Leica, but with Sony it seems the odds are reversed. The good ones are rare and the obvious duds are the norm.

    I'll be writing to Sony to see what they have to say.

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    Re: Sony Lens Quality Control Terrible?

    Upon inspecting some other 55 FE test shots I can see that if I focus at about 20m on centre at f1.8, I can get perfectly crisp lower left corners..... at about 4-5m. That is serious decentering. Top right is probably smack on for infinity.... groan. I have built in asymmetric swing!

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    Re: Sony Lens Quality Control Terrible?

    The second 55mm lens is very good. Not perfect, but plenty good enough. Thank goodness for that.

    This makes it 2 out of 5, or a 40% hit rate, which is better than I thought it was going to be.

    My third 35mm copy has a slightly soft top right corner which shows up in some frames, but considering the last copy had a similar top left corner AND a soft left side, I consider myself well ahead.

    I have my wide-angle aspirations waiting on the Zeiss manual wides, because I have no interest in going through this process again with the Sony Zeiss wides, whether 16-35 zoom or primes. I will stockpile patience ready for the forthcoming 85mm and possibly the 70-200 f4 OSS in time.

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    Senior Member Arne Hvaring's Avatar
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    Re: Sony Lens Quality Control Terrible?

    I'm not surprised. My first 35mm FE had double-contours on the left hand side until stopped down to f8. Second copy is better with even sharpness falloff (without oddities) toward the edges.
    I'm on my second FE 55mm (I think, see below). The first had notable blurring at the left edge, just a touch on the right, but excellent otherwise. The new copy shows much the same , but less pronounced, so I'm a bit on the fence regarding keeping it.
    Here's a surprising aside: When I got my second copy it had the same serial number as the first lens! As you may be aware the serial number on this lens is just a bit of tape on the barrel and easily removable. Not reassuring. When questioned, Sony replied that the service department had just mounted the outer, plastic barrel on to a new optical unit. Thus the taped-on serial number remained the same. Anyone heard of this before? My dealer was quite taken aback too.

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    Re: Sony Lens Quality Control Terrible?

    Arne,

    I'm surprised about the serial number issue, but can understand why they would scrap faulty optical units and keep the mount. I'm sorry to hear your second 55mm unit is no better than your first, but I would change it out again and keep fingers crossed. This is what I had to do for the 35mm: 3rd time lucky (ish). I'm sure there are 35mm units better than my third copy, but its still very good and I am happy to stop the hunt there.

    Wide open, my second 55mm has a fractionally soft top right and lower left like the first on a brick wall test, but it is very subtle (unlike the first lens, where those corners never got sharper than a blur) and gone completely a stop down. I have checked and while it is visible on a torturous brick wall test, it is not visible in real life shooting. In the real world it is just blistering sharp, from wide open. To all intents and purposes the centre has peaked at f2.5, tho it gets a touch better up to about f5 (nothing you'd really see in print). Corners and edges are very good wide open, excellent at 2.5, close to perfect at f4 and little different to the centre by f5.6. Its a lens one can use with confidence a any aperture.

    What marks the 55mm out from the 35mm is the evenness of performance. The very high frequency detail retains good contrast right across the field and when I did a test shot of a bank of foliage I was quite stunned what was visible right into the corners.

    This is all great, but Sony, please, please have your act together for the coming 85mm and 16-35mm!

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    Senior Member Arne Hvaring's Avatar
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    Re: Sony Lens Quality Control Terrible?

    Good to hear you've got a 55mm that performs. I'll test mine a bit more, but I suspect it is going back, unfortunately. I'll probably get third with the same serial number, LOL.

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    Re: Sony Lens Quality Control Terrible?

    My 55 FE on the a7r is as good as my MFDB kit for a 24 inch print - only at sizes larger than 36 inches (or when cropping) is the IQ180 and 80 mm SK LS lens clearly better.

    This was my first FE; I have been similarly lucky with the 24-70 FE, though it is not as good as my 24-70 ZA A mount, which is also a stop faster - but a heck of a lot heavier!

    And my first 70-200 FE has proven excellent as long as one avoids the shutter-shock speeds - but that's not a fault of the lens.

    So I have apparently been lucky with Sony QC for FE lenses - but less so with A mount. My 300 mm was very soft and had to be exchanged and the aforementioned 24-70 ZA had to be repaired when it failed to focus to infinity. (Fixed under warranty.)

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    Re: Sony Lens Quality Control Terrible?

    I bought 2 35FE, one for myself and one for a friend, and a 55FE. No problem to report on any of those lenses. Neither has anyone commented that there was an issue on the many pics I have posted from these lenses.

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    Re: Sony Lens Quality Control Terrible?

    turtle, my experience was even more negative than yours. If you want to read up more on it there was a thread I started on the topic while ago.

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    Re: Sony Lens Quality Control Terrible?

    I wrote to Sony to express my dismay at these optical issues and was sent a polite email expressing regret that '[I] feel that there are quality problems' and that they will pass on my comments to the product development team and update me if there is a 'firmware fix' developed that will rectify the matter. Oh dear.

    I think they need to poach some of Canon's staff.

    Anyway, moving on!

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    Re: Sony Lens Quality Control Terrible?

    They know trust me - it's just that they can't publicly admit it, as with the a7r shutter slap issue. Nikon seem similar to me: they never admitted the d800 left side focus issue and th d600 only got fixed after a legal challenge AFAIK....

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    Re: Sony Lens Quality Control Terrible?

    Quote Originally Posted by turtle View Post
    I wrote to Sony to express my dismay at these optical issues and was sent a polite email expressing regret that '[I] feel that there are quality problems' and that they will pass on my comments to the product development team and update me if there is a 'firmware fix' developed that will rectify the matter. Oh dear.

    I think they need to poach some of Canon's staff.

    Anyway, moving on!
    Sony, like any other company, is driven by profit. Thus writing to them will not phase bean counters nor head honchos even a little bit. Only thing that gets their attention is their bottom line, money.

    So if we want to get their attention only thing that will be efficient at it is one that sends a message they do notice, one that hurts their bottom line.

    In other words if customers believe Sony, or any other company, is offering subpar product they should return the product, get refund, take their business elsewhere, write letter to retailer and manufacturer why they did so, and write letter to BBB and Consumer Affairs what they think of products they have been offered.

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    Re: Sony Lens Quality Control Terrible?

    Quote Originally Posted by tashley View Post
    They know trust me - it's just that they can't publicly admit it, as with the a7r shutter slap issue. Nikon seem similar to me ...
    I don't remember when was the last time I remember some company admitting something. There is a huge financial incentive in them not admitting anything proactively. For start there is a thinking 'We sold X of product so-and-so, Y of them is having an issue but only small percentage of customers knows enough to notice, profit we made outweighs significantly customers we lost, so numbers don't give us a reason to care. We will start "caring" only if we get faced with something that will hurt us more financially, like class action lawsuit or government agency wrath'.

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    Re: Sony Lens Quality Control Terrible?

    My 35 and 55 were fine first time round. My first copy of the 24-70 wasn't perfect and the 2nd one though better still isn't top notch wide open at 24mm but then none of them seem to be

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    Re: Sony Lens Quality Control Terrible?

    Viramati, I am envious of your better fortune!

    FWIW, I took a chance and bought the 70-200mm f4 OSS and got my first good Sony lens on the first hit. Wow, I am bowled over. I did take the precaution of buying it locally from a store (at higher price) so I would not p1ss off my online retailer by sending back another lens!

    I've done a quick review of the lens here: Road Test: Sony FE 70-200 f4 G OSS for A7 and A7R

    PS its a very good lens indeed.

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    Re: Sony Lens Quality Control Terrible?

    Quote Originally Posted by turtle View Post
    Viramati, I am envious of your better fortune!

    FWIW, I took a chance and bought the 70-200mm f4 OSS and got my first good Sony lens on the first hit. Wow, I am bowled over. I did take the precaution of buying it locally from a store (at higher price) so I would not p1ss off my online retailer by sending back another lens!

    I've done a quick review of the lens here: Road Test: Sony FE 70-200 f4 G OSS for A7 and A7R

    PS its a very good lens indeed.
    I found that waiting a few months after release tends to improve my luck with Sony FE lenses. My 55 is the only one I bought at or near release and I don't see any noticeable problems with it still 9 months later.

    My 24-70 I bought approximately 2 months after release. It was good but I didn't feel it was great for the price so I traded it for a 35FE which I like better but don't love really. It will be on the chopping block once a better (and faster) 35mm option is released.

    I'm still awaiting the 16-35 and I will possibly add a 70-200 in time... I'm more interested in what will come of the Zeiss Loxia line.
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