Awesome Olympus Service and a faulty OM-D E-M5

This post is a little unusual for my style of writing here, but because it got me thinking about what you buy when you buy a camera, I thought I would share my experiences with you.  Being a person that travels internationally regularly, the two things I do look for in a camera is reliability (or toughness) and great after sales service. You could probably add a lightweight system to this as well, but sometimes my Olympus E3 and E5 really did become heavy).  Over the years I have had the opportunity to use a number of big brand name cameras and have been less impressed with after sales service and reliability.  On one occasion while traveling internationally on a project my big brand name camera stopped working.  I contacted the supplier in that country where I was traveling and they informed me that I would have to send it back to Australia for service (at my cost) or that they could service it for me but it would take up to 3 weeks and I would have to pay full cost for service and parts/repairs.  I was less then impressed and I understand the "country only" warranties that exist and the additional reseller international warranties that you can sometimes purchase.  With the taste of this bad experience (and others) I soon moved back to using Olympus cameras as they offered an International world wide warranty (at the time - a few changes now) with their cameras - perfect!  They also claimed to make tough weather sealed cameras/lenses - another plus.  

Now in terms of toughness I will relate one of my adventure mishaps which attests to the toughness of their DSLR's.  About 2 yrs ago I was caught in a bit of a mud slide in the mountains of SaPa, Vietnam and ripped a flash off its hot shoe mount and completely dislodged the front of my lens and buried the camera deep in mud (I think this was my Olympus E5).  I thought the world had come to an end - half way through another adventure and my good camera down.  I was hiking 20km into the mountains that day so I really wanted this camera to be the work horse for this trip and there was no way I was carrying another DSLR camera body with me.  I did have a backup small pen camera but was not too happy with its performance for what I was doing.  I also only had a 20mm pancake lens for it and the default kit lens.  I then decided to really put the camera to the test - I thought if it has already been submerged in mud and water why not just wash it off in one of the many creeks.  I did this, dried it off, set the flash to IR mode (hot shoe was completely broken) and continued to shoot as if nothing had happened, even though I had to now hold the flash when i needed it.  I don't think there are too many DSLR's that can cope with this sort of treatment and still keep working.  I was absolutely impressed and I wish I had taken a photo of the mud encased in the camera.

Now back to my most current situation - the new Olympus OM-D E-M5!  I have only had this camera for about 4 or 5 weeks and I immediately found it to be the camera I picked up for most of my photographic work during this time.  With my travel overseas approaching I thought that I would ditch all my heavy gear for the trip and just take this new camera, a couple of prime lenses and the weather sealed 12-50mm lens.  This all sounded good in theory and as I was leaving the house I thought I had better through in the old Olympus Pen E-PL2 that I had.  This would turn out to be the best decision I had made as my poor OM-D E-M5 died after 3-4 days of fairly intense use and I was wishing that i had packed my Olympus E5 and lenses.

I was extremely disappointed and quickly sent off a twitter message to Olympus Australia late that evening and also received a response late in the evening saying that they would consult their technicians the next day.  I was amazed to have even received a response that evening outside of normal working hours.  The next day, after a few more tweets, I was given the details of Olympus Malaysia and told to go visit them and see what their service people could do.  I soon turned up at the Olympus Malaysia office in Kuala Lumpur where they took the unit in for service and then 3 working days later they sent me an email to say that it was ready to be collected.  I was dumb founded that the service was so quick and professional even though the warranty card said "Australian warranty against defects".  This is the type of service that is invaluable to anyone who enjoys taking pictures with their camera no matter where they are in the world.  It shouldn’t matter whether you are a professional, enthusiast or just a holiday maker - this is the type of service that really is priceless.  Congratulations Olympus for again coming to the rescue and honoring the products that you make and looking after your customers - its priceless.  For those of you considering a new camera - think about what you are really buying when you buy a camera and lenses.

This post ended up being a lot longer than I had hoped for, but for those of you wondering what the problem was with the Olympus OM-D E-M5, I have posted a couple of pictures below of the issues I was having.  I was told that the entire image stabilisation unit had to be replaced (which was my initial guess).

The screen when in live view mode - initially only a problem when held horizontally but then occasiionally when vertical

100% crop of a photo with the horizontal lines/banding now appearing in the output.  Initially I thought it was just an issue with the LCD but closer inspection proved it wasn't

A small disclaimer that I do not work for Olympus and I do not receive any products or financial return from Olympus.  This post is purely based on my experiences as a customer. 


Glad to hear they sorted it out for you. I've found Olympus service to be great on 2 occasions, for an XZ-1 destroyed by a rouge wave (it nearly destroyed me too) and an E-PM1 which stopped saving the date and time.

And the guy looking after the Olympus Australia Twitter account is awesome. Super helpful, approachable and friendly.

As a fellow Bris-vagan, I'm looking forward to more of your posts, Footless.

By Nic Walmsley (not verified)

Hi Nic

Thanks for taking the time to respond - I hope to have a couple of more posts up over the next few days (and maybe even a post on some Brisbane street photography)




By Shaun

You mentioned that Olympus' International Warranty offering was "at the time - a few changes now". Can you elaborate on those changes?

By Roy (not verified)

Hi Roy

All my warranty cards used to say something like world wide warranty and now they have Australia warranty written on them.  I think the best thing to do is actually check the Olympus website for each of the countries as to what they offer.  I was told recently that in Malaysia the warranty card still refers to worldwide  but this was just word of mouth from fellow photographers there.  The main thing is that Olympus seems to be really looking after their customers.

By Shaun

Great to know this, having purchased an OM-D myself a week ago. Hope I never need the service, but even if I do, its comforting to know that they might provide a good service.
Regarding warranty, as I purchased in India, I got 2 yrs of warranty: 1st year Worldwide and 2nd year India National... So I guess I've the best of both worlds ;-)

By Mithun (not verified)

Mithun - that sounds great with your warranty.  I had been noticing this as I have purcahsed Olympus gear in many countries over the last couple of years (usually because it always took so long to find the gear in Austraia - but its improving now).

By Shaun

Oh WOW! This same thing happened to me yesterday. I was shooting a wedding and the ceremony hadn't even begun when I started to notice the LCD acting weird. Then all of a sudden, these horizontal lines came on FULL TIME! I changed lenses, even tried to give it a tap thinking maybe something came loose. Thank GOD I took along my Nikon DSLR for backup but my really good lenses are all micro 4/3 as i recently switched systems. I was soooo upset and frustrated and cursed my tiny miracle camera all to be damned and the company that made it! Alas it is comforting to know that I may be in for a trouble free and smooth customer service experience. Cheers and thanks for Posting

By Shaka Zu (not verified)

I have not had the same luck as you. I had the opposite situation in which I have bought an olympus camera in malaysia with a "worldwide warranty". Unfortunately worldwide does not apparently include Australia. This camera stopped working within 3 months of buying it and when I sent it to Olympus repairs in Australia they would not honour the warranty because it was not bought in australia and now want to charge me $200 to fix it!!! Unbelievable and crap service from Australia. I will now have to post it to Malaysia and hope it returns. I will never buy Olympus again.

By Marguerite (not verified)

I bough an OM-D E-M1 while staying in Japan (specifically with an International Warranty) , brought it back to Australia and it developed a fault - blank frames. Rang Olympus Australia and their response was 'sorry we don't participate in international warranties, you will have to pay for repairs once the item is assessed, or take it back to where you bough it". Person I spoke to was also quite rude, which made me even more unhappy. Turns out it was user error, dreading if the camera ever does develop issues.

By FMK (not verified)

I bought an omd em5 in Tasmania last year. It's still within the 2 year warranty and the evf has stopped working. All I get is white light. I have travelled a lot since purchase and haven't been able I find my receipt, so they will not fix it and they have been really rude to me in the phone. I have spent about 4000 on gear from them and then been treated very poorly.! Pretty upset with olympus australia for this..

Any advice.?

By El (not verified)

Hi - You could try social media to contact Olympus directly (twitter) or even go back to the store where you bought it as they should have a record of the purchase.  I know the store where I buy gear from always has a copy of the receipt on file for me.

By Shaun

I don't know how it works in Australia but here in Canada we just go to where the camera was purchased and attain a copy. They usually keep it on file for at least 3 years. Best of luck.

By kitchenvulture (not verified)

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