Lots of Misinformation on Repairing Leica 100-400mm Locked

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danieljcox Contributing Member • Posts: 900
Lots of Misinformation on Repairing Leica 100-400mm

Greetings MFT forums readers. I’ve been following the earlier thread Panasonic 100-400 to be discontinued? I tried to post this response in that thread but it's closed due to so many comments. Therefore I've started this new thread.

Many of you know I’m a Lumix Ambassador so there will be plenty of skepticism of what I write. But I’m telling you up front.

Only those who know me will understand and appreciate my honesty and integrity. I shoot Lumix because I believe in this company as a whole, not just their cameras. Their commitment to the environment and sustainability is as important to me as their camera gear.

We should keep in mind, nobody or company is perfect. However, Panasonic/Lumix is working hard to bring us new tools that are highly crafted, most often very durable and yet still affordable. This is especially true when compared to the big two dominant players we’re all familiar with. OK, so that’s my preamble.

I’ve been involved with the Leica 100-400mm from before it was officially released. One of my first concerns of the preproduction lens, the stiffness of the zoom mechanism, I discussed with the Lumix engineers. They improved it substantially before the official release but I do agree that when compared the silky smooth zoom action of the 12-35mm or the 35-100mm, it’s falls short. However, I find the newest copies of this lens to be completely acceptable. I’ve had two copies and both have performed better than my oringal expectations. Is it perfect? No, but it’s been my most used lens since the day it was released.

As far as service and repairs are concerned; being a Lumix Ambassador I’m not going to base my experiences on the service I regularly receive. It’s certainly possible Lumix repair department pays additional attention when my gear comes across the service desk. That being said, service has always been very good.

To get a better feel, for how the average user may be treated, I often check with other Lumix shooters. I have access to a sizable group of Lumix photographers by way of our Invitational Photo Tours, many of them having switched to the Lumix system. These people travel with us, many have become close friends and like everybody, they too have accidents with their gear. This gives me extra real world insight and I’m very aware of the policy that requires an exchange for a “Factory Recertified” lens.

I know of at least five of our NE Explorers who have needed repairs to their 100-400mm. In two cases it was the the lens flange that broke and needed to be replaced. I believe both repairs where done at the McAllen, TX repair facility. Two other repairs related to the loosening of the tripod collar. Both were out of warranty and both were replaced with a “Factory Recertified” replacement. In one case the replacement cost was a little over $1000.00US. The other was just over $500.00US. I have to say, the $1000.00 repair seems high but the $500.00 fee seems reasonable. The fifth 100-400mm was still under warranty and was replaced with the Factory Recertified lens for no charge.

Regarding the two that were repaired. I have no idea what needed fixing and what each repair required. I’m told that this lens is extremely complicated to disassemble and equally difficult to put back together. But I can tell you, when they do send out a Factory Certified replacement, it’s the same as a factory original.

I’ve seen comments in this thread that suggest the cost of a Factory Recertified lens is equal to a new lens. Obviously this is not true since B&H Photo currently has the Leica 100-400mm listed at $1797.99US with a $200.00US instant savings.

Finally, below is the response I got from the Panasonic team, in my own words, when I brought this subject up and asked for their thoughts.

  • The 100-400 lens can only be serviced by the Lumix lens factory in Japan due to the equipment and expertise that is required. Any repair that requires the lens to be disassembled requires that the mechanical and optical alignment be done. The time required to disassemble, repair, reassemble and align the lens is a very manual process that can take several hours. A final decision as to if the lens can be repaired comes only after it’s been disassembled and evaluated.
  • For these reasons, parts for the lens were never made available to 3rd party service departments who are not capable of servicing the lens. I know of two cases where a repair attempt was made, unsuccessfully. In one case the lens was returned to the customer, partially disassembled. But never has the 100-400mm unrepairable with parts discontinued as some have suggested.
  • For a professional photographer, or serious enthusiast, being without their gear can be costly or at the very least frustrating. The turnaround time to have a lens serviced in Japan was far too long, so from day one Panasonic decided that a lens received for qualified in warranty service would be replaced with a factory recertified lens. Such lens’s go through the factory assembly line and receive the same calibration and inspection as new mass production units receive. Using this system the in house turnaround in McAllen is typically 2-3 days from delivery, often faster.
  • In consideration of all of the above, an out of warranty repair may also be done by replacing the lens with a recertified lens. I know of one case where the customer requested his lens be repaired rather than replaced. It was sent to Japan where the lens housing was found to be mechanically distorted due to the lens being dropped. The cost to repair the lens would have exceeded the cost of a new lens and the total turnaround time to determine this was over 3 weeks. In the end the customer regretted not using our certified lens replacement method which would have been quicker and less expensive.
  • The 100-400mm has never been discounted as far as repair for is concerned.

I hope this helps everybody understand that Panasonic is not the boogey man people are making them out to be. Quite the contrary. Their policy of getting your lens back or replaced, with a virtually brand new one, with turn around of a week or less, is service I’ve experienced from few other companies.

 danieljcox's gear list:danieljcox's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 Panasonic G85 Panasonic GH5 Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm F4 ASPH +15 more
Panasonic Leica 100-400mm F4.0-6.3 ASPH
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