Just before NAB, news broke that users were experiencing light leak issues with the Canon 5D Mk. III. Canon responded by issung a service advisory that light emitting from the Mk. III’s top LCD screen could affect the camera metering system and they were working on a fix. Now it seems worse than believed as Canon has stopped production altogether until they have a fix for the problem. Could a recall be in shooters future?
“In extremely dark environments, if the LCD panel illuminates, the displayed exposure value may change as a result of the AE sensor’s detection of light from the LCD panel. Canon is now examining the countermeasures and once the countermeasures are decided, we will post the information on our Web site.” - Canon 5D Mk. III Product Advisory
The camera’s sensitive light meter can be thrown off by as much as a third of a stop from light emitting from the top amber LCD screen when it turns on. To date, most of the complaints have been from users from the United Kingdom and Canada, and so Canon has temporarily ceased shipment to those countries until they can determine the cause, and what action needs to be taken to fix it.
The 5D is no stranger to the dreaded “product advisory” treatment. Back in 2008, there were complaints of hot or stuck pixels in the LCD of the Mk. II. It was repaired with a simple manual cleaning of the censor. But this is already the third service advisory for the 5D Mk. III, the first two being an issue with processing RAW format images when using Canon’s Digital Photo Professional Version Software (an easy software fix to be sure) and an abnormal noise being emitted when using large zoom lenses with image stabilization.
But the LCD light leak issue (currently dubbed “Leak Gate” by those following it) may point to more serious issues than a simply firmware update. It could point to a manufacturing issue, which may be why Canon has suspended shipments to the UK and Canada. So it could be a bad batch that got past quality control while dealing with demand from shooters eager to upgrade from the Mk. II all around the world. But if it expands to a world wide quality control issue, then Canon may find users looking to get those Mk. IIs out of the closet sooner than they thought, and pushing for refunds on their new Mk. IIIs.
”Customer satisfaction remains Canon’s top priority and we would like to apologize to our EOS 5D Mark III customers for any inconvenience cause,” – Canon Statement on the 5D Mk. III light leak issue.
Now, to Canon’s credit, they have issued that service advisory and they are usually pretty good at determining what the cause is and choosing a course of action. In the early 2000s, Canon was part of an industry wide censor recall of chips made by SONY that were defective and they spent years replacing them.
But currently, there’s little in the way of details as to when Canon will develop a fix for the light leak issue. It does seem, however, to be confined to extremely low light conditions (although PetaPixel is reporting that the light leak issue can happen with any direct light source, even bright ambient sunlight). Canon does recommend, however, that users register their EOS 5D Mark III and opt in so they can be notified when service updates are available.