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Greg's Olympus E-M1
burnt viewfinder syndrome
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In December 2013 I got a new Olympus OM-D E-M1, their top of the line camera. It's tough, rugged, waterproof... and not sun proof.

About a year later, though, I ran into a strange problem: strange markings in the viewfinder:


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All images taken on Monday, 22 December 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 22 December 2014, small
Diary entry for Monday, 22 December 2014 Complete exposure details

 

It took me a while to send it off for repair: it typically takes 3 weeks until I get it back again. In the meantime I wrote this page. At the time I had no idea what caused it. When I sent the camera for repair, it was returned with a note stating that the camera had been left in direct sunlight:


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All images taken on Friday, 31 July 2015, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 31 July 2015, small
Diary entry for Friday, 31 July 2015

 

Following up showed that this is a known defect in the camera design: if the viewfinder eyepiece adjustment is set to +2 dioptres, it only takes one second to burn a hole in the viewfinder fabric, as these photos by Daniel Bradley show:


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All images taken on Wednesday, 18 June 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 18 June 2014, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 18 June 2014 Complete exposure details

   
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And Olympus didn't even warn me! Fortunately I found out and was able to avoid any further damage—I thought. In February 2016, despite all my attempts, it happened again. The difference now is that the manufacturer's warranty has expired. I called up Consumer Affairs Victoria, who were helpful. Apart from the manufactuer's warranty, section 54 of the Consumer Law provides an implied warranty. Trimming to the details relevant to this case, it says:

If a person supplies, in trade or commerce, goods to a consumer, there is a guarantee that the goods are of acceptable quality.

Goods are of acceptable quality if they are as fit for all the purposes for which goods of that kind are commonly supplied, free from defects, safe and durable.

But Olympus didn't want to know. This was an isolated case. So I went out looking, and came back with a large number of forum threads on the subject. Here are some of them:

I like the E-M1, but my goodwill towards Olympus is wearing thin.

Are you affected? If so, please contact me.


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