Canon 24-105mm F4L – the conclusion

This is the third instalment of my broken Canon 24-105mm F4L lens and associated err 01.

My Canon 24-105mm F4L  was recently giving me problems where it would not focus properly when zoomed in and above f4. Now, the lens has been fixed and it is working properly again! I’m very happy about this situation and so relieved that I was almost considering forgiving Canon and just filing this one away as part and parcel of living in a consumer society. But actually, this situation really sucks and it is simply a money grab. I think it has something to do with Canon not wanting customers from expensive countries in the West shipping their gear to Indonesia to be fixed.

So, the lens was fixed and it took about 3 weeks all up from the time I gave it to the shop until the time they returned it along with the faulty part.

Broken 24-105mm diaphragm
Broken 24-105mm diaphragm

They told me it was the diaphragm that was broken which matches pretty closely to what everyone on the web already knows. These lenses break too easily for a professional quality lens. Why would you buy an L lens that breaks easily if you can get a lens at a fraction of the cost with image quality that is still pretty good? Well, the answer is simple. Do not buy an L lens. Buy a cheaper one, just so long as the image quality is good. Forget all this rubbish about better build quality etc. There is no guarantee about build quality and if the lens breaks, you are screwed. You have to pay to get it repaired. In the end mine came in at about US$220 which included about US$160 for labour and about $60 for the part. Those figures are rough because I was charged in Indonesian currency which is fluctuating against the dollar at the moment.

So… these people are telling me that the labour of the Indonesians involved in fixing the camera is more expensive than the imported part they had to replace? Give me a break. The only reason I can think of that they charge so much for the service is to try and standardise costs across the world so there is no leakage of repairs from a country like Australia to Indonesia. But why not!? It’s good for Indonesia and great for Australian consumers. I can understand that happens to some extent with imported products where production occurs offshore. But we are talking about service charges here and service charges are almost entirely made up of cost of labour. As I made the point in the previous posts, labour in Indonesia is dirt cheap and nothing costs as much as this repair costs. It’s the equivalent of a housekeeper for 3 months. A store worker for 1.5 months (ie the girl at the counter that I handed the lens to), a teacher for 3 weeks. I mean, come on. Someone is stealing money and it is simply a sham.

Companies celebrate the global economy because it allows them the shift production to lower paying countries so that consumers around the world can benefit from lower prices. Well, this is the line we are spun all the time. Actually, what these big companies tend to do time and time again is shift their production costs to countries where they can get things done more cheaply. Great. But they only pass those savings onto consumers when they are forced to by competitors. There is only one authorised Canon repairer in Indonesia and the lack of competition means the price is fixed. The price is FIXED.

Anyway, I’d had it with Canon. They are absolute robbers.


Canon 24-105mm F4L – The Repair

This is the second installment of my broken Canon 24-105mm F4L lens and associated err 01.

So I took my lens into the Indonesian authorised repairer of Canon products called Datascrip today in the city of Bandung and I had a very poor experience. Very poor.

As I expected, they need to take the lens away and conduct diagnostics on it to determine the exact nature of the fault. Also as expected, they wanted a flat fee for this diagnostic check. But what was unexpected was the size of the fee and a little quirk that I’ll get to in a moment. Firstly about the fee. The minimum wage in Indonesia is about $120 per month. As skilled workers, the technicians looking at my camera would be lucky to get anywhere near $500 per month. I’m already 95% certain of the fault in my camera and I am not a lens expert. Yet the repair centre wants to charge $75 or the equivalent of 1/3 of a month of labour at minimum wage or 3.5 days labour at the higher salary.

Well, if that was the end of it, I’d probably complain anyway, but it isn’t. The quirk is that because I bought the lens outside of Indonesia, Canon’s authorised repairer Datascrip doubles the labour charge. Essentially an extra fee for being a white guy as no Indonesians are going to buy their gear overseas as it’s already cheap here. So the price becomes $150 and we don’t even know what the fault is yet. That is how much my housekeeper gets paid for 3 months of work. That’s more than what a department store worker gets in a month. Hell, it’s more than what the person serving me at the counter gets in one month. It borders on stealing. And people don’t forget when they are treated poorly. Canon is treating its customers in Indonesia poorly.

The other thing is that it will take 2 weeks for them to figure out what the problem is. So I buy a professional lens and it breaks in a manner that it shouldn’t. That sucks hard. Secondly, Canon wants to charge me exhorbitant prices for diagnostics and possible repair, far above going rates in Indonesia. Angry. Thirdly, they don’t want to provide a speedy service — instead they are going to take all that money of mine and then take their sweet old time. Well I have this to say to you Canon. Fuck you.

More to come if and when they decide to tell me what the problem is.

19 June 2014 – The other day I found a guy who can repair this error for $18 plus parts! He’s located in the Indonesian city of Bandung and the name of the shop is Toto Camera and Lens Serivce. Address is Jl. Laswi (between Jalan Gatot Subroto and the railway line – enter the alleyway next to the photo shop which is on the west side of the road. This photo shop is not Toto. Follow the river until the bridge and turn right. Continue ahead down that alley until you see the camera repair sign) Telp. 022. 7330 738 0812 2030 202


Canon 24-105mm f4L lens problem – err 01

This is the first instalment of my broken Canon 24-105mm F4L lens and associated err 01.

<nerd> This has mainly been a travel blog over the past couple of years, but I’m now feeling like complaining about stuff… Especially stuff that warrants a good old whinge, just like this one.

In 2009 I bought a brand new Canon lens, the 24-105mm F4 L professional lens for about $1400. $1400 for a lens… I can’t even believe it myself. Anyway, the reason to buy these professional L lenses is that they are quality items. Great picture quality and great build quality. Except mine just broke through no fault of my own.

I’ve done some diagnosis myself on the issue and the following are the symptoms:

– Err 01 code
– Code appears above 24mm
– Code appears above f4
– Makes a weird hunting sound as the diaphragm moves around
– Occasionally lens gets stuck when stopped down and won’t open again

There’s a number of ways to test the problem, but the best one is to do this. Set the camera to M mode, 24mm, f4. Half press the shutter and hold. While holding the shutter, hold down the depth of field button. It should stop down normally and you can look down the barrel of the lens and see it doing its thing. Next, move the aperture to f22 or whatever you feel like and try stopping down again. What should happen is that the lens chucks a fit and the problem is diagnosed. Your lens is broken. A sickening feeling. (drop a comment to tell me how sick you feel)

The most likely cause is a broken ribbon cable inside the lens. The problem is that this ribbon cable is soldered to the aperture controller or diaphragm and that means that when the lens is repaired, the repairer has to replace the ribbon cable and control unit! Madness! But that’s nothing compared to what comes next. That unit and cable is housed in a plastic molded assembly… which contains a lens element. And when you start playing with lens elements, they need to be realigned so the lens becomes sharp again. But that’s too hard to do so they have to replace the lens element as well. So a good portion of the lens is actually replaced because of a stupid crappy cable that is faulty.

This problem is common with the 24-105mm. Canon do not acknowledge that there is a problem, but if you search enough on the internet, there are hundreds of cases and mine is just another one.

I’m living in Indonesia at the moment and need the camera for work, my honeymoon in June and July and a wedding in July. It’s important. I’ll see if I can get the lens repaired locally and report back on price and success of repair!