Camera repair services

At the time of writing, there are still two types of repair services available for the R-D1. The first is repair by Epson. The Epson repair facility in Japan continues to provide comprehensive services for all models of the R-D1. The second option covered is having repair done by an independent (third-party) facility, like Steve’s Camera Service Center. Of course there are a number of repairs that can be done without sending your camera off, and many of those are covered in detail.

Epson

Epson can service and repair the R-D1, including out-of-warranty cameras, to a high standard, and the turnaround is 2–3 weeks.

Unfortunately, getting your camera serviced or repaired by Epson can be a Sisyphean task, since most staff at Epson support centres (excepting Japanese ones) know nothing about the R-D1, and often insist that normal procedures are followed: That you send the camera to an independent service center to be evaluated—do not agree to this as none have the expertise to deal with the R-D1. For example, one owner who’d lost his shutter button was told by a support manager that the camera was irreparable and refused to examine it—although replacing the button is very straightforward and can be done in a couple of minutes.

The support centre should instead ask you to send the camera to one of Epson’s dedicated R-D1 repair centres for evaluation: In Europe, all R-D1 cameras requiring attention are dealt with by an Epson facility in Créteil, France; in the United States, the repair centre is in Plainfield, Indiana; and in Asia, it’s Matsumoto City, Japan (I am unaware of an R-D1 repair centre for Australia). The Matsumoto City centre appears to be the main repair facility. Their contact details are below.

You should thus insist that your camera is sent to Créteil, Indiana or Matsumoto City depending on where you live. The Japanese service centres seem to be aware of the R-D1, and, if you live in Japan, it is straighforward to arrange for your camera to be collected and sent to Matsumoto City. Unfortunately, staff in Epson service centres outside Japan will often tell you that Epson cannot service or repair the camera, or tell you to send it to a local service centre that does not specialise in the R-D1: This information is wrong (R-D1 owners have reported that the three aforementioned service centres adjusted/repaired their cameras). If necessary, hang up and call back to talk to someone else. As staff are unfamiliar with the Epson R-D1, it is also commonplace for e-mails to be ignored, calls to remain unreturned and for you to be given the runaround: You will just have to keep hassling Epson and make a nuisance of yourself. This is poor customer service, but, sadly, Epson is far from unique.

Rather than going through your local European or US Epson service centre and being fobbed off by staff who haven’t a clue, it may be possible to deal with the R-D1 repair facility directly. For Europeans, contact Epson France and insist on a ‘numéro de retour en intervention/SAV’ (after-sales service number), and then send your camera, accompanied by that number and the serial number of the camera body (and a copy of your invoice if the camera is still under warranty) to the Epson Engineering Europe SA address below.

If you cannot get your local Epson service centre to help, you can send your camera to Matsumoto City in Japan. For those outside of Europe who cannot speak Japanese, Japan Exposures (a Japan-based camera sourcing company) will contact Epson on your behalf (for a fee). Contact Dirk Rössler, who is fluent in both English and Japanese.

Once past the hurdle of getting Epson to send your camera to an R-D1 repair centre, make sure that your camera is accompanied by a detailed letter explaining your problem clearly. Attach it to the camera with a rubber band, so the two can’t become separated.

In Europe and the United States, Epson have charged a flat fee for repairing out-of-warranty cameras (2007 prices: £317.25 [incl. VAT] in the United Kingdom, $548 in the United States)—which included a complete service and repair of all faults. However, there have been reports in 2009 that Epson Europe is charging a per repair fee. For example, a service that included repair of the analogue guages cost 90 euros (excl. VAT).

If you think you have a fault, Epson (at least in Europe) charges a fixed fee in Europe (£70 in the United Kingdom, €45 in Europe) for collecting, inspecting and returning a camera. This fee is waived if the camera requires repair/servicing and you give Epson permission to go ahead with the work.

In Japan, Epson still charge a flat fee at the time of writing (Oct 2010): 5250¥ (plus parts if needed) plus 1575¥ for collection and return postage (a total of US $75)—a bargain as this includes a complete service (sensor clean, rangefinder adjustment, etc.). Note that the cost is significantly less than that charged in Europe or the United States, which may offset the cost and hassle of sending the camera overseas. Prices are on Epson’s website in Japanese.

Note that Epson may decide that the best solution is to replace your camera with a refurbished one, in which case your ‘new’ camera will have your old hotshoe affixed (because of the serial number).

Epson R-D1 repair centres

Epson Engineering Europe SA
Service Reception Magasin
60 rue Auguste Perret
Europarc
94043 Créteil Cedex
France
Tel: +33 (0) 8 21 017 017 or +33 (0) 1 56 715 700
Fax: +33 (0) 1 56 715 726

Epson Service Centre
1563 Kanbayashi
Matsumoto City
Nagano 390-1243
Japan
Tel: +81 050 3155 7110 or +81 0263 867 462
Fax: +81 0263 86 7698

Epson America, Inc.
Service Center
2350 E. Stafford Road
Plainfield, IN 46168
USA
Tel: +1 (562) 276 4315

None of the repair centres seem keen to provide a direct e-mail address, unfortunately.

Independents

Any competent camera technician will be able to check and calibrate the rangefinder (if you’re technically minded, you can do this yourself). They should also be able to repair mechanical faults. Unfortunately, many technicians specialising in rangefinder servicing and repair will not tackle the R-D1 owing to its electronic components, even though it has many mechanical parts that they would be familiar with; for example, I have heard that DAG Camera Parts, an expert technician, will not work on the R-D1.

All is not gloom and doom, as there are a few camera repairers who will work on the R-D1. In the United Kingdom, Camera City, based in London, undertakes basic repairs and servicing.

One business stands out, though: Steve’s Camera Service Center in California, run by Steve Choi.

Steve’s Camera Service Center
4355 S. Sepulveda Blvd
Culver City, CA 90230
USA
Tel: +1 (310) 397-0072
Fad: +1 (310) 397-3473

Steve’s Cameras have serviced and repaired several R-D1 cameras and seem to be becoming the place to have your R-D1 seen to. Some of the problems have been serious and been pronounced unrepairable by other independent technicians and have involved complete disassembly of the camera (For example, repair of faulty shutters and of non-working LCD screens. They have kindly allowed me to show the step-by-step disassembly of an R-D1 with a faulty shutter that they repaired.) A typical major repair costs about US $300, and a six-month warranty is provided on the work. Steve’s Cameras will accept cameras from outside the United States (example repair for a Swiss customer).

However, Epson supplies only a limited range of spare parts for the R-D1 (see below), so, despite their best efforts, independent camera technicians may be unable to repair your camera if an unobtainable component needs replacement. Also, bear in mind that the R-D1 contains a lot of electronic components, any of which could fail: It is unreasonable to expect a camera technician to also be an expert electronics engineer. So, sending your camera to Epson may be your only option for certain repairs.