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Old April 12th, 2008, 04:39 PM   #1
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? Turnaround Time for Backfocus Repair ?

I was going to wait til Monday to ask what your experience was in sending the EX-1 to Sony for backfocus repair - if you had a backfocus and/or a vignette problem and you sent it to San Jose (or elsewhere), how many days was it before you received it back? I'm not waiting til Monday to ask, because by that time I expect no one will be talking about anything except the EX-3! And maybe its already too late to ask?

I called Sony San Jose, and sent in my EX-1 two weeks ago yesterday. They have had it as of two weeks ago this coming Monday. I still haven't received a call back from the query and message I left them two weeks ago. Depending upon the experience of others out there (if anyone responds, please, for my information as well as to inform others!), I may get on the phone Monday with Sony, at various locations. If anyone is at Sony instead of the NAB. And as posted earlier, EX-3 or not, when I get mine back (hopefully before a shoot in New York in just short of three weeks, I will report here on the turnaround time to and from Sony, the status of the camera upon receipt, and if it is still broken, the success of utilizing Gerald's fix procedure. Since everyone has been so quiet lately about backfocus issues, I wonder if between Sony and Gerald's procedure, most of the backfocus problems are being taken care of.

And I am also curious as to whether the info posted elsewhere might be true, that the improved software in the EX-3 might be made available for the EX-1 by mid summer! Thanking all you responders in advance.............
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Old April 13th, 2008, 08:27 AM   #2
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Actually had Zoom control issue (stepping in zoom speed under 10). Turnaround was about 10 days and it supposedly took that long because they had to get paperwork approval to replace the camera with a new one.

I had no problem calling them (San Jose) periodically and getting updates.
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Old April 15th, 2008, 01:01 PM   #3
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The turnaround time for the Sony "repair" of my EX-1 was from March 28 until April 14, or 17 days, including my 3 day UPS shipping time. For those of you who are planning to or are finally compelled to send your camera to San Jose, please see the last paragraph of this post about the Sony packaging of the camera upon its return.

Craig - thanks so much for your response. I was about to try another call to Sony yesterday, when my camera arrived!

I finally received my EX-1 back from Sony yesterday, for the information of any of you out there who may have backfocus, vignette, or other issues requiring repair (I am assuming, that since no one is posting anywhere anymore regarding backfocus issues, that they have now gone away completely [?], and that everything being shipped now is OK in that regard).

I shipped the EX-1 to Sony San Jose on Friday, March 28, UPS, insured, 3 day, and Sony received and signed for it on Monday, March 31. Their Packing List enclosed when the camera was returned was dated "04/10/2008", so I assume that it sat in their shop for 9 weekdays before they got to it (or perhaps they worked on it for days, which is unlikely, given the following). Under "Comments" was printed, "Performed upgrade, Fully tested." That is all. The software was upgraded from V1.03-0351 to V1.05_0405, as has been the case with those of you sending in the camcorder with the old software. I do not know if the backfocus has been repaired or is worse, but I will test it today, and post here by tomorrow, including the results of using Gerald's 12 chart fix in the event that Sony did not fix it.

As a matter of fact, and without comment, I provide the following information for any of you shipping anything to Sony. The camera was shipped to Sony with the original B&H (boy! there's a company that provides genuine, the very best customer service, product information, etc.) packing material. The camera was placed (sans all extras, including camera strap, filters, cards, battery, etc., but with the large rubber eyepiece extension attached) in the Sony camera carton, wrapped in the original clear wrapping material, and surrounded by all of the original Sony "egg carton" cardboard material. The Sony box was placed in the original B&H box and surrounded with the B&H bubble wrap, thereby providing secure, well padded surround.

Here is how the camera was packed by Sony for its return to me:

- Sony provided a new, substantial (about the same as B&H's) external packing carton.
- The original Sony carton was inside the new packing carton, but there was no packing material of any kind, just large empty spaces, all sides, top and bottom, between the original Sony carton and the packing carton.
- The camera was rewrapped with the original clear wrapping material, and it was pulled very tightly around the camera with much tape, totally crushing, distorting and pulling on the rubber eyepiece - fortunately, it was not ripped.
- The aforementioned Packing List was under the clear wrapping material, and was wrinkled and ripped, because of the way everything was wrapped.
- Some of the cardboard "egg carton" packaging material was ripped, in such a way suggesting that the camera might have been misplaced back in the material (is violently too strong a term?) at one point.
- Some of the other aspects of the cardboard "egg carton" packaging material was crushed in such a way suggesting that it resulted not from the way the camera was placed in it, but because of the sideways weight of the camera under high velocity (such velocity being enhanced by the absence of any packing material between the inner and outer cartons).

In over 50 years of carefully returning electronic products for repair or modification, I have never experienced this kind of packing incident upon return from any manufacturer. Is it too much to surmise that as others have commented, Sony service has been overwhelmed with repair demands for this camera, which have resulted in cameras being returned unrepaired multiple times, or in worse condition?

As a matter of fact, if the backfocus is not repaired, if I cannot repair it using Gerald's excellent and ingenious procedure, and if I do not discover other problems with the camcorder, I do not intend to send the camera to Sony again.

Of course, we are all waiting for information from Sony about the further software modifications for this camera, and the possiblility of our downloading and installing the modifications ourselves (with the usual caveats). And of course we really hope for the possiblility in regard to the new external 60GB hard drive - according to Sony literature, to use this device, current EX-1 owners (not EX-3 owners, of course) will have to have installed new software for the external 60GB drive to work with the EX-1.
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Old April 15th, 2008, 01:28 PM   #4
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I too sent my camera out in original box sans "extras." The new camera came back in new box sans extras but otherwise well packed.

Sony told me on one of my phone calls that they are (were?) truly backed up with repairs which is why it took so long (in my case to get new camera approved).

I haven't checked back focus on mine either nor checked to see if they upgraded the firmware but I'm guessing the fix is in the firmware. I wouldn't doubt it's how the camera figures the back focus while running through the service menu routine.

I think Philip Bloom alluded to a 3 month delay to the public release of the firmware update but I think he also mentioned that the back focus might be moved from the service to the main menu.

In fact if you think about when the EX3 will actually be delivered (July) I wouldn't be surprised if that's when the EX1 firmware comes out so the release EX3 firmware will be in sync with EX1 firmware.
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Old April 16th, 2008, 09:57 PM   #5
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Well, there is no question but that my EX-1 is in better condition regarding backfocus than when I sent it to San Jose. Instead of the original bushes I zoomed in and focused on looking like mud when I went to wide, they look like bushes now, albeit still pretty fuzzy.

BUT, I have not yet finished testing, and the way the weather is here in central Texas, it may be several days before we have another sunny day (we were promised one today - no) that would permit ND-1 and ND-2 testing of the kind I'd like to do. The main issue I have yet to test is - when the camera is zoomed in and focused, and then pulled to wide, where is the sharpest infinity focus - at infinity, or some intermediate point. I suspect the latter. And if this is the case, I'll run George's 12 star chart test, and if that improves it, write to San Jose with a suggestion as to how they could better serve their customers - we'll see, and I will post!
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Old April 17th, 2008, 01:42 AM   #6
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Well I've sent mine to be upgraded from 1.02 to 1.05 and address the backfocus issue. The turnaround only took 1 calendar week BUT the backfocus is now worse than before! When I check for the backfocus issues I do not test it on trees or Siemens star - I just zoom in on the eyes of a person and then zoom out. The result with the EX1 is that at the wide setting the eyes and face are heavily blurred! It starts going bad from mid-zoom onwards. It's this testing that I care about - I film people all the time and if their faces are not sharp than the camera is not good. Mine has been one of the early EX1's.

Can someone confirms that the newly bought EX1 (with 1.05 version) are spot on as regards to backfocus?
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Old April 17th, 2008, 07:32 AM   #7
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Brian, thanks for posting the turnaround time! And sorry to hear about your problem - perhaps I'm being presumptuous, and if so, I beg your pardon - but have you heard of and tried Gerald Loidl's (I have been mistakenly calling him "George", above) fix on the backfocus issue? If not, please go to this thread, and scroll to Gerald's posts on the second page and beyond:

http://dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=117307

Gerald had 3 cameras and a loaner which Sony (Europe) evidently couldn't repair, and if you'll look up some of his screen shots after he repaired his, his cameras are all now jewels!

I have spent hours on this and other sites - I should have kept a tally by name of users - there are dozens of people out there who report that the 1.05 software installation by Sony was causative of (or coincidental with?) the repair of their backfocus problem. There are other dozens who, like you, report that the issue was exacerbated (or stayed the same) when they received the camera back from any one of a number of Sony repair stations.

After sending my camera into Sony, the backfocus issue is distinctly better - but it still looks soft. As has been the case, again, with many others, at this point, I'm just not certain. And I don't want, of course, to make it worse, if this is as good as it gets.

Your camera is obviously grossly misaligned. So Gerald Loidl's procedure couldn't hurt it, and could possibly put you back in business post haste!

I intend to determine (when we have a bright day here) if my camera's infinity focus is best (when pulled back to wide) at infinity, or some much closer point, and if the latter, and if I can find a large, large blank wall (I haven't yet), I'll be trying Gerald's procedure. But given my own and other's experience here, I do not intend to send the camera back to Sony in regard to backfocus.

Last edited by William Urschel; April 17th, 2008 at 07:34 AM. Reason: Grammer, always!
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Old April 17th, 2008, 09:46 AM   #8
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Thanks William for your reply - but unfortunately I did perform Gerald's procedure more than once after realising that Sony did not bother to check the backfocus before shipping it back to me. Like yourself, I've been reading every post on this subject. I decided to send it to Sony after seeing Gerald's uploaded images and I was truly impressed with the difference.

So I'm assuming that since mine is one of the very first few, it must have some serious misalignment. Still it's a shame on Sony for sending back the camera in such a state. I didn't send it to the part-time technician next door - rather to Sony's Prime Support.

The backfocus is so bad that I can actually see it in the lcd of the EX1, you could imagine how it looks on a 40' screen. That's why I'm totally pissed off.
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Old April 19th, 2008, 10:49 PM   #9
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Well, guess what? This probably won't surprise anyone. Finished very extensive testing (and printing 40 expanded screen shots) of my EX-1, Clear, ND-1, and ND-2 following Sony's "repair" of the defective backfocus. Zoomed all the way in, focused at a point 85 feet away (close to infinity on the barrel), and then to wide, no matter what the ND setting, the lens clearest precise focus at that 85 feet distant point is clearly 15 feet on the barrel, and not anyplace close to infinity. This is clearly the best that Sony repair can do.

At this point I am really torn between leaving it as is, or setting up a star chart (the best surface I have is an exterior brick wall, if I can make the charts stick and it isn't too windy) and doing an FB Adjust. My concern is that I have that important shoot coming up in NYC in less than two weeks now, and as Adam Wilt says, FB Adjust could make things worse - as it is at present, I have some workarounds.

If anyone is lurking out there who has found that the FB Adjust actually made things worse, a post here would be appreciated. I've read reports by many of you that Sony repair made things worse. But every report I've read on a user FB Adjust has reported that it either didn't improve anything or that it improved things substantially, so far, never that it made the back focus worse.
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Old April 19th, 2008, 11:42 PM   #10
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I've had it make things worse, but then repeated the process and everything got better - I think if you can do it right, the Auto FB will ultimately improve your backfocus.
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Old April 20th, 2008, 01:42 AM   #11
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I carried out Gerald's procedure to the letter and it worked. You can see the system locking on to the block of charts in the wide position. I was relieved as surely back focus is the most important thing to get right on a camera - especially an HD one. I cannot understand the ethos of Sony not checking and double checking the back focus before sending out cameras from manufacture or repair. If back focus is out the camera is 100% useless as a creative tool.

BTW I recently had a Z1 that mysteriously lost its back focus and consequently went back to Sony Pencoed (Wales) for repair - it was returned with what seems to be 100% perfect registration.
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Old April 20th, 2008, 08:52 AM   #12
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William,
Hunt down Gerald's instructions and set it up yourself.

I'm hearing the latest software 1.05 is supposed to address the BF setup problems.
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Old April 20th, 2008, 07:06 PM   #13
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Mine came back from Sony's update perfect.
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Old April 21st, 2008, 06:15 PM   #14
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As noted above, Sony just serviced my camera, and there was a definite improvement of the backfocus problem I had experienced. Unfortunately, the best infinity focus was then obtained at 15 feet on the barrel. I spent the better part of today running Gerald's 12 star chart backfocus procedure, with the charts taped on a brick wall, and the camera exactly perpendicular to the wall. Now, at settings of Clear, ND-1, and ND-2, the best wide focus is consistantly the best with the barrel indicator set anywhere from infinity down to 15 feet, with infinity focus lost below that point, according to the 18 prints made of the center focal point enlarged 9 times.

Again thanks to Gerald (again, a virtual beer!) and also to those of you providing positive feedback about your FB results and encouragement!

For the first time I will finally get on with using this camera creatively and productively.
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Old April 22nd, 2008, 01:54 AM   #15
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I feel the same having carried out the "Gerald" back focus procedure - it has given me confidence in the EX1. I used the camera in earnest for the first time last week and the pictures are superb. I was shooting B roll material with the main camera being a 730s HDCAM. The pictures intercut very well. Will now be using the EX1 for more projects.
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