Over the years, many brands have touted the reliability of their products. Remember those Timex ads? “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking.” Or Dodge trucks? “Ram Tough.” When it comes to cameras, though, it's hard to imagine that sort of durability.
They have glass lenses, right? Computer components? Lots of moving parts? However, according to a 2015 Consumer Reports Reliability Survey, they're pretty hardy. Based on input from more than 34,000 subscribers, we learned that on average only 5 percent of point-and-shoot cameras required repairs or had serious problems during the first three years of use. For interchangeable-lens cameras (SLRs, mirrorless cameras, etc.), that number was not much higher: Most brands had an estimated failure rate of 7 to 8 percent.
Due to differences in performance standards and frequency of use, it's impossible to do a straight-up comparison between product categories, but—with that in mind—we'll tell you that the estimated failure rates for laptops in our most recent survey hovered between 10 and 19 percent. And the spread was even greater for dishwashers—9 to 24 percent.
In fact, since the failure rate for all digital camera brands ranged between 4 and 8 percent, we can't single out any one of them as the most or least reliable. (Differences of fewer than 5 percentage points are not meaningful.)
For owners of point-and-shoot cameras, the most common part to fail was the power-up function (14 percent of the time). The autofocus, lens/lens mount, and zooming feature were also problematic (10 percent). For interchangeable lens cameras, the lens/lens mount and autofocus were the most common parts to break (16 percent).
Is a digital camera worth repairing? Yes, you should at least look into that option.
Conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, the 2015 Reliability Survey involved subscribers who bought digital cameras between 2010 and 2015. All told, those readers purchased 23,753 point-and-shoot models and 10,311 higher-end interchangeable-lens models. Our statistical model estimates failure rates for three-year-old digital cameras not covered by a service contract.
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