Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Konica Minolta No Longer in the Camera Business

By Christina VanGinkel

I bought the camera of my dreams just sixteen months ago, a Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z5. It had all the features I had dreamed a new digital camera would have. A larger than typical optic zoom, 12X to be exact, built in anti-shake technology which I felt was an important feature for me as I always seem to have a slight tremor when holding something like a camera, a 5.0-megapixel CCD, a very adequate 2 inch LCD screen, and much more. When I bought it, I was already the owner of a Sony Mavica 350, which I still have. Between the two, the Konica should have been the easy winner, especially as the Mavica had only a 3X optical zoom and a 3.3-megapixel CCD. However, now that I have had them both for some time, I often find myself grabbing my Sony Mavica without hesitation when I know I cannot risk losing a shot.

Jump ahead from July 2005 to now, and while I like my Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z5, it has a few issues, nothing serious, but some things I would love to be able to follow up with the manufacturer about. Occasionally, when I snap several pictures in a row, I end up with a completely black snapshot. I do not mean snapping one right after the other with no break in between, just a somewhat consecutive row of snapshots. It is almost as if the camera becomes tired. This happens even when I have fresh batteries installed. In addition, when I turn it on, it sometimes seems to need to think before it will open. Again, this happens even when I have brand new batteries in it. Both problems, when I asked a few fellow digital camera owners if they had ever experienced issues such as these, the response was always to check my batteries, as the problems seem to be a power issue.

I decided my best course of action would be to go online and check the camera's site, to look through their FAQ (frequently asked questions) section and see if they had any ongoing issues with problems such as mine or even similar. Imagine my surprise when I popped online to go to their website only to discover that they no longer exist. That is right. While the company itself still exists, they have chosen to close some parts of their operations, essentially those parts of the company that are related to their cameras.

The notice on their site reads:

Camera Customer Services and Support

Konica Minolta Photo Imaging, Inc. ceased the camera business on March 31, 2006. As of April 1st, 2006, Sony Corporation is providing customer service for Konica's, Minolta's, and Konica Minolta's cameras (excluding Film-In cameras) and camera-related products except for the binoculars. For information about customer service, please click "Contact & Repairs".
For support information, please click "Support".

Photographic and Processing Products

Konica Minolta Photo Imaging, Inc. will also end our color film and paper supply operations, on an area-by-area basis. The withdrawal from worldwide sales activities will be complete by March 31, 2007.
Therefore, we are providing all information about photographic and processing products at the Konica Minolta Camera & Photo Support Site. Information is available in the English, German, French, and Chinese languages. Konica Minolta Photo Imaging, Inc. would like to express our heartfelt appreciation to fans of Konica Minolta around the world for their support for more than a century.

While I understand companies go through changes such as this, I still found this disturbing. After paying as much as I did for my camera, I would have at least expected to receive some sort of postcard, in my mailbox announcing these facts. They have customers register for warranty reasons, so I know they have my contact information, along with the other thousands of people who have products recently purchased and under warranty. At the time of this announcement, my camera was not even one year old. The good thing is their FAQ section is still online and searchable through their site, as are certain drivers for download. So even though they have passed off their support to Sony, the Konica Minolta website is still a good starting point if you find you have issues with one of their cameras, that, after you get past the shock of reading that the company no longer supports the cameras we paid them for.

The good news in all of this is that Sony Corporation is providing support of Konica Minolta customers. As an owner of a Sony camera, I know the company has good customer service, as I had to deal with them shortly after I first purchased my Sony Mavica. It ended up there was nothing wrong with my Mavica other than user error, yet the reps I had to deal with were both courteous and helpful, and not the least bit condescending when we all realized the problem was with me and not the camera.

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