5D2 . . . RIP

Well, I’m sad to give such a sour update.  I had a big weekend with lots of paid assignments to finally get my 5D2 a good whirl.  I received my 5D2 kit from Pictureline, Friday Nov 28.  I had multiple family photographs on the weekend, a quick wedding on Monday, an engagement session on Tuesday and a scrapped model shoot.  Well, suffice to say that my 5D2 lasted a whole 20 frames and then kaput.  Kicked the can.  Bit the bucket.  Breathed it’s last breath.  Was I peeved?  You betcha :)

Before all you nay-sayers out there go and start badmouthing Canon, or you Nikon elitists that say “you should switch to Nikon”, lets get real here.  Both manufacturers produce fine cameras.  We all know that Canon has had a bit of bad PR with the 1D mk3, and Nikon has had a bunch of good PR with their new DSLRs.  This isn’t about who’s better, it’s about my experience (albeit short-lived) with my brand new 5D mk2.  I’ve been eagerly waiting like a school boy to get working with this camera, and the perfect weekend arrived and I was lucky enough to have one, poised and ready to attack.  Maybe the 5D2 got scared and wimped out?  Who knows, only Canon will figure it out while I sit and wait for my new Camera.

OK, the details and nitty gritty of what happened. After I had shot a number of frames, and the exact moment I had arrived to photograph some family portraits the camera died.  I went to take a quick test shot of my lighting setup with the family, and something weird happened.  No pic, erroneous RAW data was recorded, and an odd sound from the shutter.  I changed some settings, tried it again, and nothing.  The data recorded was so bizarre it looked like it might have been some kind of wireless interference.  Strange though to think.  The screen would flicker and sometimes it looked like it was trying to display an error, but it just looked like a bad tube TV that was slowly dying, and then finally did.  I thought it might have been my trusty CF card.  So I formatted it (with a couple of landscape snapshots I had taken 1 hour previous, thus losing all the data) and tried again.  Nothing different.  After 10 minutes of tinkering I decided to put it away and grab my backup 5D and continue with the shoot.

Once I was done I examined the camera furiously, changing all settings, resetting all settings and trying every conceivable configuration possible to get my new 5D2 to work.  Nothing resuscitated it back to life.  No picture could be taken, so, I assumed something was wrong with the mirror motor, the shutter, the sensor or the LCD malfunctioning. I tried exposure settings from f/22 and 1/8000, to f/1.2 and 1/2s.  Same data was recorded (which is a weird matrix of red/blue/green pixels scattered and viewable only at 8:1 crops (at a pixel/pixel viewing level).  Something was seriously wrong.  The extra noise after the “up/down” clicks of the shutter led me to think some kind of mechanical failure.  Live View ceased to operate, and actually causes the camera to error-out, the only way to get the camera back to normal is to turn the power off and remove and re-insert the battery.

Next I tried sensor cleaning . . . this granted me some new perspective that it’s actually the shutter, as you can hear from the audio clips posted below.  It sounds like there is some kind of motor that continues to rotate/turn, but something is clearly wrong.

Before you say “Wow, Canon quality control is through the toilet again!”.  Hold up, the camera was functioning perfectly when I got it.  20-30 frames were fired off just fine.  Live View worked, it was all set up and working like it should, so don’t blame Canon Quality Control testing, as they would have tested a perfect working camera.  So why am I posting this and taking the time to get some info up here?  Well, I sure do hope that this is not a design flaw that is going to wave it’s hand at all 5D2 owners some time in the future.  I hope it’s just a fluke that something inside my specific camera went wrong, something mechanical or electronic, and that it was only prone to my camera body.  I plan on purchasing a 2nd body in the future, so I’m not too worried about it.

Now, why did it take so long to post this info?  Well, I wanted to hear back from Canon and from Pictureline about what is going to be done to fix the obvious problem.  I did pay $123 to overnight ship this puppy, so you bet I’m a little annoyed with this whole ordeal.  First things first, I called Canon Customer Service that same evening (and was surprised they were even open!).  They took down my statement and agreed that somethign was wrong.  They couldn’t replace it, only initiate a repair order to get it fixed.  Of course I don’t want a repair, I just want a brand new camera, no problems, no history.  They agreed, but told me Canon Customer Relations would be calling on Monday.  I requested some form of compensation since I did pay through the nose for overnight shipping.  They said they would look into it.

I phoned Pictureline (I love them, great team of workers, awesome showroom, good ethics) and talked to a rep about the problem.  Sharon (who has been extremely helpful and patient with my constant phone calls) helped me out and told me she would have to talk to her Canon dealer on Monday as obviously they did not have any more in stock to send and replace my bad camera.  Monday roles around and she says they are going to send a replacement as soon as they get them back in stock, which they aren’t quite sure when that will be since the Canon dealers are still allotting next shipments to retailers.  I politely asked Pictureline is she could ask her Canon rep for maybe an extra battery to ease the pain of the $123 overnighted broken camera.

I get a hold of Canon on Monday (Dec 1) and tell them that I’m pretty disappointed and that I feel obligated to report the problem I have experienced to my photographer colleagues (blogs, forums ,whatnot), but I am waiting to hear from Canon what they are going to do to fix the problem.  Canon tells me they cannot issue any monetary compensation, but I told them I don’t really care about money now, just maybe some accessories that they could send me.  Canon calls on Tuesday (1 day later) to tell me that they are willing to send me an extra 5D2 battery and a Canon 4GB CF card.  I felt OK with that, atleast it’s something.

Pictureline also said that their Canon dealer has offered to send an additional battery, so atleast 2 additional batteries makes up for the premium in shipping that I paid.  So far so good.  Now I’m just waiting to hear back from Pictureline about a new replacement camera that hopefully will be here soon!  Can’t wait to fire off some new frames with this bad boy!

Anyway, here is the info about what the camera is doing.  If you are experiencing similar problems with your Canon 5D mk2, please let me know.  I really do hope its just a fluke on my end that I just got a bum camera, but, if it’s a wide-spread problem, let’s hear about it.  I have attached some photos below of what the LCD looks like after you try and take a picture.  Sometimes you get a weird display of white/black lines that pulses in intensity and remains on the LCD until you turn it off.  Next, sometimes it will give an error 20/30/40, telling me to “please remove the battery and re-insert again to resume shooting”.  Sometimes this error is displayed, sometimes it’s all funky like you see below, and sometimes nothing appears on the screen.

Audio Clips below:

Shutter Actuation

Mirror-Lockup Shutter Actuation

Sensor Cleaning

First impressions, the camera is beautiful.  Gorgeous shutter noise (I’m a stickler for nice, beefy and manly shutter actuation sounds like the 1D and old film cameras).  This is very quiet and soft, but still pretty good.  I never cared for the original 5D shutter sound, always preffering the loud and precise “slap” of the 1Ds2 or 1V.  Remember, I had this for about 2-3 hours before it quit, so I can’t really judge it’s performance on IQ, but all the functions still work.

Once I get a new camera back in my hands, a good review will be coming . . . as I promised :D