J.D. Powers DSLR Survey – 1. Pentax, 2. Nikon, and 3. Canon

J.D. Powers & Associates, Inc. recently released a survey measuring the customer satisfaction of DSLR owners.


With every survey, there always those that find some fault with it. But as a former Pentax shooter, I am not surprised that Pentax has such high marks. It has some solid products, such as the K-5, that offer a lot of bang for the buck, and tends to have an extremely loyal customer base. In perusing the internet and reading a number of similar studies, I often found Nikon and Canon to be neck and neck, with one or the other edging the other, but not by any appreciable measure.

Amid the recent debates regarding my D800 post and some of the criticisms hurled at Nikon, I thought it was important to recognize that Nikon continues to receive high marks from its customer base across a number of categories. Some viewed my explanations that those of us that purchased the first wave of D800s were taking a bit of risk as somehow being an apologist for Nikon quality. To the contrary, from years of working in the high tech industry, I simply recognize and accept the fact that those that receive the 1.0 version of software or hardware always assume a higher risk than those that order that particular product after it has been out in the field for some time, the manufacturing lines and workflow processes have been ironed out, and some of the bugs missed by the quality assurance/control teams have been discovered and fixed. And while it is clear that Nikon has some number of D800s with the autofocus problem in the field, I don’t know if anyone but Nikon knows how many units are affected. The autofocus issue is particularly aggravating because it goes to the very heart of the D800’s main appeal – superb resolution.

Good news! I recently received confirmations from a number of photographers experiencing the same left autofocus issue, that Nikon’s Melville, NY Service Center and other repair facilities have successfully resolved this issue.I take this as a good sign that Nikon has a handle on the problem and a reliable fix. After some initial testing when my D800 returns, I vow to never look at another test chart… well… until a new lens arrives. In the meantime, my D7000’s smile has returned to her face since the “intruder” departed from our home in a box. I haven’t had the heart to tell her that the D800 will eventually return and become a permanent member of the family… ;)

I will post the details of my repair experience and keep everyone in the loop. In the meantime, I would urge everyone to put their D800s through the testing process Nasim outlined and ensure they are working correctly. Let’s hope Nikon has resolved this issue at the plant, and people spend more time and energy showcasing the D800’s extraordinary capabilities. More to come…


  1. 1) Mark Adams
    July 10, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    Thanks Bob!
    After reading your last post, I ordered the Datacolor Lenscal and looking forward to your review on it. I recently purchased the Nikon Holy Trinity, plus an 85mm 1.4 so it would be ridiculous of me not to invest 62 bucks to make sure they are properly calibrated.

    • July 10, 2012 at 10:11 pm

      Good for you. Indeed what sense does it make to spend thousands on “sharp” lenses, only to skimp on the means to quickly and easily ensure that you are getting all the sharpness out of them that you paid for? :)

  2. 2) Shyam
    July 10, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    Pentax K5 definitely is the king of APS-C cameras, ranked better than the 7D or (D7000 or D300s). It is not a best selling brand but I’d rather support a small brand which gets things right rather than being a Canikon guy and always, ever, constantly looking for the next upgrade :)

    • July 10, 2012 at 10:14 pm

      The K-5 is one solid camera. Pentax has had its share of issues over the last few years due to its smaller market share, but it got nailed the K-5 relative to feature set and quality.

    • 2.2) Anders
      July 11, 2012 at 4:10 am

      The Pentax is probably a fine camera, but what does it matter if the bag is full of Canon or Nikon lenses?

      • July 11, 2012 at 6:51 am

        There is always ebay. I sold all my gear and came close to breaking even on the Pentax lenses. Only my K10D had any noticeable depreciation.

        • Anders
          July 11, 2012 at 10:41 am

          Sure, but I’m not that desperate to exchange my D800 for a K5 or any other Pentax for that matter :-)

  3. July 10, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    I resent having to PAY to be a beta tester. They (everyone selling items with firmware, not just Nikon) should give a 15% rebate to those buying v1.0 and give them “go to the head of the line” support priority on bugs that have subsequently been squished.


    Phil in San Diego

    • July 10, 2012 at 9:54 pm

      No one is making you sign on to be a beta tester. I have worked on beta programs. Believe me – this issue with the D800 is nothing compared to a beta process! ;)
      The real beta testers were those like Joe McNally and others with close ties to Nikon, who received multiple iterations of the D800, provided feedback, reported bugs, had some units fail completely, etc. I am sure people logged hundreds if not thousands of hours shooting the D800 before the camera was even announced. Being a beta tester involves quite a bit of commitment from the participants. It is not for the faint at heart.
      Some people want to be first in line but don’t want to assume the inherent risk associated with it. You always have the option to wait a few months until such issues get worked out. People have to be realistic about the odds of running into an issue early in the process.

      • 3.1.1) Phil Wells
        July 10, 2012 at 11:04 pm


        I agree that nobody is MAKING me do this. It’s just that by definition, something “in beta” is NOT released to manufacturing. Not everyone knows that buying the first run of cameras or cell phones can bring them headaches they didn’t P A Y for.

        Guys like you, AND ME, at times like to BE beta testers and, at least with software, you usually get the beta for free in return for your feedback. Once v1 coms out, the beta expires and you have to buy the public version. This version should be tested for bugs as well as possible BEFORE charging people for it.

        If you want to pay money to get headaches, be my guest. But the mfr should call it “Nikon 7100 Betaq 1″ so people who don’t want to deal with finding problems and having them repaired will know to wait. There’s nothing implied by putting a product up for sale that it’s not completely tested; in fact, I submit that there IS an implication that the product is as bug free as it can be.

        • Profile photo of Bob Vishneski Bob Vishneski
          July 10, 2012 at 11:16 pm


          I will of course sound like an apologist once again, but companies do run into problems at times, despite their best intentions and efforts. Not an excuse – but merely the fact. I doubt that most people lambasting Nikon would pass the “Perfect out of the chute” test for whatever their individual profession might be.

          Everyone/company makes mistakes, particularly involving extremely complex products such as a high end DSLR. Heck, I must get a dozen or more software updates on my Android phone each week. What I wonder is why “Quote By Lincoln” keeps getting updates. Is President Lincoln still coming up with new ones? :)

          The more troubling issue is the lack of communication out of Nikon regarding this issue. IMHO, Nikon and their customer base would be better served by a press release identifying the details and what they intend to do to resolve it. If Nikon is to be faulted, it is not for making a mistake on the production line, but more so in how they are (or not) handling it. The silence is deafening…


          • Rob
            July 11, 2012 at 9:29 am

            “The silence is deafening…”


            I’ve had my D800 for over a month and after some “anomalies” where focus was missed I began to stop assuming that I had screwed up and that perhaps the camera was at fault. Seeing the articles here at Mansurovs pushed me to do some tests the other night. Well at first blush it looks like I have the left focus issue. I’m getting some flood lights today to boost my ambient exposure (my sole modeling lamp on my strobe doesn’t cut it) and I’ll try out a few of my lenses to make sure it’s not lens dependent. Still, with my initial test my 24-70 it is definitely out of focus using the leftmost AF point.

            Yesterday I was frustrated…why hasn’t Nikon said anything? Confirming the issue and confirming they can fix it would boost my confidence so much.

            After thinking about it, there are some possible explanations. 1) Maybe they are still trying to get the process out of the factory nailed down. Once they know they have solved the issue at the production level, they may be able to better isolate which serial numbers are affected. 2) Maybe they don’t want to announce it in fear of their service centers being swamped. They figure those who care will notice and will send it in. Still, I think it’s ridiculous that we need to pay to ship a camera that has a defect as soon as we got it.

            Aside from the EN-EL15 I have had another Nikon product be recalled before. Our Coolpix 5700 started having corrupted files due to a faulty ribbon cable inside the camera. This recall wasn’t issued until 2 years after we bought the camera and we didn’t even know about it until we encountered the failure and I contacted Nikon support about it. Canon just announced a recall for the S100 lens error issue and that camera has been available since November of last year. So, it could be official word is coming but they need to complete some sort of internal investigation and make sure all loose ends are tied before they announce anything. In the meantime, it’s comforting to hear that folks who have sent in their camera have been getting them fixed. From what I’ve read on some forums, back in May some people sent in their camera only to get back either performing worse or no change.

            As for me, I need my D800 for a few jobs this month and if my bookings slow down in August I’ll send it in. With testing I can determine which AF sensors to avoid, and hopefully my keeper rate goes up. Hoping to hear some more success stories from folks that have had their cameras fixed and in the meantime I’ll be testing and working on assembling a portfolio of images that demonstrate the issue.


          • Phil Wells
            July 11, 2012 at 4:37 pm

            We are on essentially the same page. I am just saying that releasing something that may still have problems is a conscious choice by the mfr, whomever they are. We are all human and we all make mistakes, even big companies like Nikon and Micro$oft and, like you, I am always getting those frustrating updates for Firefox and Acrobat reader on my PC. IF they were upGRADES I’d be OK with it. But because they’re not willing to test the products completely (the ones mentioned are free so there’s little incentive to spend the extra capital to test them REALLY well) we are constantly upDATING these things and it’s true with paid programs and hardware too.

            I’m just making a blanket statement that I resent being counted on to, shall we call it, gamma-test products I’ve paid for and, even though most of us know to eschew v1.0, not everyone knows this and often pays the price in time and frustration.

            I’m saying that, unless the mfr tells us “this product is 70% tested” or “95% tested”, the customer doesn’t know what they’re getting. And who says v1.1 or v1.2 much better. I’m just saying that we consumers have no idea how clean the product is at any point. With cars, you can usually buy the first run off the assy line and be fine – but lives are at stake. And, yes, there are recalls, but they are, overall, rare.

            I am not lambasting Nikon; I am just making a blanket statement about all products that often require upDATES and the discovery that these upDATES are needed is usually because of inadvertent beta-testing of fully released products by consumers.

            Thanks for the forum to make my comments. I’ll drop it at this point.

            Phil in San Diego

            • Profile photo of Bob Vishneski Bob Vishneski
              July 11, 2012 at 7:46 pm

              I can’t say for say, but I think this may be end up be a simple mistake on Nikon’s part, but one that really strikes at the D800’s main appeal. No sense getting 36 MP of blurry images! :)

              I, and most everyone, is disappointed that Nikon hasn’t gotten out in front of this issue. Staying silent on the issue as customers discover one D800 after another that has the issue, and having to spend a number of hours putting their cameras through the paces isn’t exactly “winning friends and influencing people.”

              And those customers on the fence or with orders in the queue that haven’t been filled. How confident can they be that they are going to get a properly working D800? I don’t know who is advising Nikon regarding this issue but I would strongly urge them to be much more proactive on this issue. We will forgive Nikon for some manufacturing issues in bringing us a phenomenal camera that offers quite a bit of value, but the silent treatment is making this issue much worse than it has to be.

              Thanks for dropping in and sharing your opinions.

    • 3.2) Calibrator
      July 11, 2012 at 11:32 am

      early adopters are always paying the premium – and if they are unlucky they do so for incomplete, glitchy and sometimes even faulty products. Problems are often fixed with firmware updates and sometimes the camera (or whatever product) has to be sent in for servicing / modification.

      There are two major ways to avoid this:
      a) You buy the product later! You will get a more stable & proven product for LESS money. The K-5 has seen massive price drops for example and is now cheaper than the D7000 and 60D. It’s initially high sales price was indeed one of the reasons I didn’t buy it and get a D7000 instead. I never regretted this, despite the three firmware updates for it… (*)
      b) You don’t buy the product at all! Vote with your money – and buy a different product! If enough customers behave this way a product can become a misfire and if enough products misfire the company may get into trouble.

      Buying a new product and venting your anger on the internet doesn’t really help.


      (*) = I don’t care what camera you buy! All three cameras cost about the same right now (the Pentax being the cheapest) and – at least on Amazon Germany – have the same 4.5 stars ranking. Just get what you think is best for you!

      • July 11, 2012 at 8:33 pm

        Well said! Too many people want to think they fit the mold of the Innovators and Early Adopters when they don’t. They want the benefits of standing first in line, but none of the unfortunate realities that accompany it.

  4. 4) John Richardson
    July 10, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    I totally agree with you on high tech V 1.0 products. Long has this been known and yet it seemed that for some reason Nikon users have forgot this and decided to vent their lack of common sense to the public. I almost always* wait until the initial mass production bugs that crop up are identified and resolved.

    To this end, I cancelled my Nikon orders once I found out that they were not going to available here immediately. Why? Because Nikon was shipping not only the first production run, but the first mass production run. Since I would have to send my camera to Russia for repair if there was a hardware problem I decided to wait. I will wait another 6 months to order one to let the first runs clear the slower moving Ukrainian/Russian warehouses. For the amount of money it is gonna cost me here, I can afford to wait for the bugs to be ironed out.

    *Almost always. As an ex-Apple employee I should have clearly known this, but I, like most sheeple on the night of the first iPhone release, stood in line to get one of the very first iPhones off the production line…a mistake that cost me. I now have the 2nd run of the iPhone 32gig 3GS that has taken a beating and still works flawlessly.

    • July 10, 2012 at 10:58 pm

      You are one of the few! ;) Most people that are really bent out of shape regarding the D800 focus issue seem to forget why they call being first in line for new technology, the “bleeding edge.” Some label you an apologist if you try to explain that the odds are much higher of encountering a defect early on in a product’s life cycle. Sure – it would be great if everything was perfect out of the chute, but that certainly not life, and it isn’t high tech product lines either.
      I would probably do order the D800 again, even knowing this however. The D800 is a great camera that offers quite a bit of value. There were many others that experienced no issues and are very happy with their new cameras. I only wish Nikon would address the situation with a press release. The lack of commentary on this is disconcerting to its customers, and not helping Nikon, as I suspect some are canceling their orders. The adage, “Bad news doesn’t get better with time,” applies to much of life, but particularly in a situation such as this. I am hoping Nikon puts out something on the focus issue soon. It would go a long way to regain some of the confidence of its current D800 customers experiencing this, provide a bit of hope that it knows how to resolve this issue and will do so in a timely manner, and prevent some from postponing their D800 purchase.
      Now about that $75 coupon toward my next Nikon lens… ;)

      • 4.1.1) John Richardson
        July 10, 2012 at 11:07 pm

        Yeah, that coupon … I wonder, fat chance I will find one available here for 600UAH.

  5. July 11, 2012 at 12:09 am

    I agree with the survey findings. In fact, don’t know much about Pentax and whether they have necessary telephoto glasses for wildlife photogs like me. However, agree with findings on Nikon and Canon that the latter has been failing to satisfy its users for a while already without realizing the long tern consequences.

    I think time is ripe enough for a 3rd competitor to enter with sth new and meet the users’ long cherished desire of quality and efficient equipment. To me, Sony seems to be that contender.

    • July 11, 2012 at 6:57 am

      With the current reality of having to buy into the full “ecosystem” for a given camera manufacturer (lenses, flash, flash triggers, etc.) gaining significant traction on Nikon & Canon is incredibly difficult. It is difficult to switch brands once you have invested in a given system. A camera and 2 lenses is one thing, but if you have a cadre of lenses, flashes, etc. it can take a considerable amount of time to sell them, and all that goes with it.
      When I got back into photography in 2007, after being away from it for quite some time, I was surprised that lenses and flashes were still brand specific and that universal mounts hadn’t been developed. But obviously there is little incentive for the manufacturers to make it easier to switch systems, even though the notion of a universal lens and flash mount is not a difficult challenge to overcome.

  6. 6) Rohan
    July 11, 2012 at 6:39 am

    I wish Pentax had a full-frame DSLR – or atleast plans for.

  7. 7) Anthony
    July 11, 2012 at 6:59 am

    I think you don’t get it…seriously.
    I know you got repeatedly hammered by one poster among the Caviar, etc. comments, but this is not about random defects, this is not about software which can be fix online with a mouse click, this is not about a company telling its VERY loyal customers that they screwed up and are sorry and want to make restitution immediately at the least inconvenience to you.
    This is about a company that for weeks denied there was a problem, still after months has not publicly announced that there is a problem or a solution and offering it gratis (free shipping), made customers with the problem jump unnecessarily through time and energy consuming hoops (send photos and wait 2 weeks while we send them to Japan, my experience), made customers wait weeks to get their camera fixed.
    This is about a company with a poor concept of customer service. Technical rating: A+ , Customer Service rating: D
    We all realize, already, that high tech stuff comes out with defects the first iteration, we got that. (By the way, do beta-testers pay full price for the item they’re testing?) We expect the manufacturer to identify and fix the problem quickly and gracefully.
    THAT’S the isue here.
    Now I feel better, think my medicine is kicking in.

  8. July 11, 2012 at 7:08 am

    Not only do I get it, I have lived it – multiple times. Did you read comment 11? I don’t believe we differ in our opinion regarding the notion that Nikon should have handled this better. Not sure where that D customer service rating is coming from. That doesn’t sound consistent with the J.D. Powers study or others I have seen.
    Take more medicine… ;)

  9. 9) Anthony
    July 11, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    I’m writing about the D800 autofocus issue. Have JD Power poll those of us with that problem and see how well NIKON does.
    This illustrates how you’re missing the point by telling us they do…pretty good.

    • July 11, 2012 at 8:30 pm


      I don’t see what point I am missing. This is one issue. Am I going to trash Nikon’s quality because they made a mistake in getting some of the first units out of the plant? No. It is disappointing and frustrating to deal with the D800 issue, but only those that haven’t actually had to produce a high tech product can be so severe in their judgment. As I and some others point out, if you have no tolerance for the early problems that happen in every new manufacturing line, wait until they are ironed out.

      But I have and will continue to strongly urge Nikon to proactively address this situation. The issue has shifted from “the problem” to how they are “handling the problem.”

      When I see a press release and the thousands of D800 owners get a sense that Nikon has their arms around the situation and are stepping up to deal with it? I may change my mind.


  10. 10) UncleDusty
    July 12, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    I hate to sound like a crazy conspiracy theorist, but does anyone else remember the ‘D800 technical guide’ Nikon distributed prior to the D800 release?

    At the time this was distributed it raised several eyebrows because it seemed as if Nikon was pushing end users to utilize a tripod as much as possible and also to use Live View mode to reduce mirror vibration. The brochure leads the reader to beleive that by using Live View, you’re going to get a much clearer photo (page 6). Certainly, Nikon couldn’t have believed that the target D800 purchaser didn’t have the basic understanding of how to achieve the desired level of quality in a photo by compensating for lower lighting through numerous means. Using Live view and a tripod to avoid motion blur isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel. Fishy.

    My D800 arrived on March 22, and I shot with it up until the beginning of last week and did not, as with any other DSLR I’ve shot, run into many problems with opening my lens aperture, speeding my shutter up, or inclreasing ISO to ensure proper exposure without blur from the mirror or from my lack of a tripod. With the exception of telling people to expect to be a step faster to compensate for the D800’s resolution, the technical guide seemed to be overkilling it. A lot. How many DSLRs get a technical guide prior to their release that emphasizes utilizing a tripod and Live View?

    Was Nikon was unaware of the left focus issue when they provided this ‘solution’? In the left AF test you do get similar results in LV as they describe in the technical guide. I find it hard to believe that Nikon engineers wouldn’t be able to pinpoint this problem, but would rather just chalk blurriness up to mirror shake and the D800’s groundbreaking DSLR resolution. Could it be that this a more sinister scheme where Nikon had a bunch of D800s packaged up and ready to go out the door when the issue arose, but instead of delaying them again to correct the issue they decided to take their chances and buy some time by telling everyone via technical guide to use LV mode if your photos are blurry?

    I would have a much harder time believing all of this except for the fact that Nikon is aware of this left AF issue and has not been transparent or proactive about resolving it. It seems that the percentage of D800s affected vs unaffected units is very high in comparison to…well…pretty much anything. I’m not going to abandon Nikon, but like many others, I have lost quite a bit of confidence in their ability to conduct honest business. On top of a swift and streamlined solution to the D800 AF issues, they should be compensating affected D800 owners for shipping, at least.

    • July 12, 2012 at 10:38 pm

      Uncle Dusty,
      Indeed, the silence regarding this issue has become worse than the actual issue with the D800. I can’t quite imagine why Nikon hasn’t stepped up to the plate and proactively addressed this situation. No one wants to assume the worst about an individual’s or a company’s motives. I remain hopeful that we will hear from Nikon soon. In the meantime, it has been amazing to see the worldwide collaboration of people dealing with the issue and helping each other out with information, testing procedures, stories of successful repairs, some insights from Nikon Service Center representatives, etc.
      The only voice missing? You guessed it…
      Thanks for taking the time to share your story.

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