Nikon’s Not So Great D600 Servicing

I upgraded to a full frame DSLR late last year, a very significant expense for my photography business but a good decision base don my needs- mostly for larger prints of fine art landscape work. At first it was a fantastic piece of gear, one small ergonomic balls-up on the tips of your right fingers- they get pinched ever so slightly by a non rounded curve, but otherwise it’s a wonderful camera.

Until it isn’t. Shooting at a 49ers game for fun I found my 20mm AF-D f2.8 lens wasn’t auto-focusing anymore, wiggled, jiggled and no luck. Went to manual mode. Weird. Later I put on a 80-200mm AF-D f2.8 Nikkor lens and it wouldn’t focus either. Messed with switches from M-A, no luck. Put on a 300mm AF-S f4 and it was all candy. Strange.

Tested it more at home the next day and realized that all my favorite AF-D lenses (between 7-10 years old) would no longer auto-focus on the body. But they did work fine on my D7000 still. Crap. They all work manually only. Not so great for shooting weddings or sports but fine for landscapes I guess?

So, send it off to Nikon less than 45 days old. Not a great feeling. This is a big investment for anyone and to have out of the box failure is bad, worse if you use that product to make money from.

Two weeks go by and Nikon sends it back into the third week, repaired. Major Repairs according to their ticket. Major part replacement. Comforting. But repaired by Nikon experts. So all good.

Except it wasn’t. First wedding after getting it back, slap on a 50mm for some portrait shots and bam, no focus. At a wedding. Luckily, oh so luckily I wasn’t the official photographer at this one – obviously I would have checked all my gear first if I was. But the “repair” was not so much a repair as I’d expected. Now thoroughly pissed and not ok with the thought of such an expensive bit of equipment spending another 2+ weeks with Nikon and not able to be used.

I asked Nikon to issue a shipping label as this was not just a warranty repair but a repair caused by their own negligence and failure to perform. After back and forthing it took them over a week to issue a shipping label. Process apparently. I should have eaten the shipping cost myself and not lost the extra week with no camera working. Lesson learned.

I told Nikon that a repair at this point was completely unacceptable, that I have no faith that they can and will do the job properly or that the camera can indeed be fixed as they supposedly did this job last time and resulted in a dead camera afterwards. In this situation you have to acknowledge your customers and they fact that they rely on your products to make a living or to work effectively.  If your products require more time in the factory than in your customers hands being used then you have a serious problem, one that affects your customers goodwill and income. One that drives them to Canon or Olympus.  But instead of acknowledging these basics of customer relationship, Nikon is refusing to replace or refund my purchase.

So obviously now I’ve gone from a big fan of Nikon gear for over 15 years to a seriously disappointed and angry customer desperate to get a working body for his $2,000.  If this had happened a tad sooner I could have simply returned it to Adorama, but that option of relying on good customer service is gone, and now I’m at the mercy of Nikon and their promise that they are able to fix what they failed to fix once before, and I’m left with a $2,000 hole in my business account and no working product to show for it again. Oh, and that bad taste in my mouth.

Thanks Nikon, way to not respect your customers.

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Next American City Vanguard hits St. Louis

Last week I was humbled to be part of a really amazing group of people- Next American City gathered 40 of the best and brightest people under 40 who are making a significant impact on the future of their city for a two day leadership summit. I was floored when I got accepted into this group at first and during my time in St. Louis I had several realizations.

Firstly, the chance for like minded professionals working in diverse urban environments really need more opportunities to connect and share, to learn from each others success and failures and to be encouraged to excel even more.  Much of the work this group is involved in is hard, changes are slow and rewards are few and far between.  If we are wanting to raise new leaders across our cities to replace the aging boomers currently in control then we must invest in the younger generations wisely.  Exposure to other young leaders is humbling and inspiring and we need both! Without inspiration it’s hard to expect these leaders will sustain their efforts in these important roles and sectors. Without continued humility we risk developing egos that blur our vision of what we are trying to achieve- time with others like these Vanguard should be humbling- 40 people all doing work that we couldn’t really do ourselves, certainly not alone. This is a valuable experience. It’s easy to be big in your own little pond. Humility renders us balanced and fuels the desire to do more great things. Or to start to!

Secondly I realized that this sharing and learning is important to our growth, understanding and thinking. I’ve been part of the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership for 6 years and am about to end my three year term on it’s executive committee.  In this network of 37 cities across the USA we often proclaim our value as being a network of professionals with rich data and experience and suggest that this fact is our strength. I disagree- the twice yearly conferences of under 100 people working on urban issues like the folks in the Vanguard are in fact are the two highlights of my year and have been for at least four years.  This drives home the importance of forums to share and learn from our work.  A place to be challenged and inspired, and chance to learn new methods and tools, to be forced to share our own work and thus forced to question what is important or impacting in our own work.  The short time at Vanguard gave us all rich opportunities to share our work, our passions and our frustrations.  Being required to do so is an important process that many of us don’t get pushed to do in our home towns. Or cities.

I’m excited to continue to develop relationships amongst the 2012 Vanguard peeps.  These networks are very powerful in our future- although I’m concerned about network overload personally I see such value in them.  Being able to reach out to a colleague in a city in a different state who has worked through the same issue, being able to jointly develop tools and applications and being able to talk through struggles is an invaluable gift.  For me the NNIP, Code for America and now the Vanguard are perhaps the most valuable things I possess professionally.

Here’s my interview on Next American City on my work in Oakland with Urban Strategies Council and OpenOakland: http://americancity.org/daily/entry/meet-our-vanguard-stephen-spiker

Below are a few pics from the St. Louis Vanguard summit, for more check my photography site:

Welcome to St. Louis?

Welcome to Missouri?

Our welcoming session in the absolutely incredible City Museum

City Museum

Pre-event hangout at Bridge. Don’t ask how many beers they had on tap…

Vanguard @ Bridge

Approaching City Museum- some appropriate confusion and excitement

The Vanguard approach

Inside the wonders of City Museum

Up and up and up

Exploring City Museum

City Museum explorer

The Nebula- awesome co-working space on Cherokee St.

The St. Louis Nebula

Excellent redevelopment work in Old North St. Louis

Old North St. Louis

And finally being regaled by stories from the owner of Blueberry Hill

Blueberry Hill on Delmar Loop

View the whole set on Flickr

Winter colors at El Cerrito BART.

I cannot overemphasize the joy of having a good quality camera on my smartphone, after two years of embarrassment over the piece of crap in the OG Droid, this HTC Rezound is awesome! I actually want to take photos with my phone again. magic.

New Year’s Focus

Not the car, the chaos that is my interest, passion and work in life. For a couple of years I’ve struggled to come up with a sensible, manageable approach to being more open (writing) about the diverse stuff that excites and motivates (yep and frustrates) me without creating a confused picture for a certain audience. So screw it, I cannot for the life of me figure out how to segment my thoughts on landscape photography, consumer tech, government tech, open government, democracy, opendata, geospatial, community engagement, social science research, community development, statistics, social justice movements and community development, public service, leadership, hip-hop and faith. No more hours trying to think of cool domain names for each segment of my life, this is me. Like you I’m something of a mess, but I have a lot of fun being this way.

This lil ol blog will wander, diverge, sidetrack and hopefully at times focus.

And there may be some additional lack of focus when my first child arrives soon, but I promise to keep baby pics out of here, did I mention how much I can’t stand Anne Geddes?