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Digital Camera Reliability and Satisfaction: Canon and Nikon Score Best

camera reliability and service
Illustration by Florafauna
Among digital camera brands, Canon and Nikon are this year’s co-champions. Readers again rewarded Canon for producing durable cameras, high-quality LCD screens, and for capturing attractive images. Nikon owners liked the LCD screen, shutter speed, and picture quality of their cameras, but said that the cameras were relatively hard to use.

Highlighted in the two charts below are our survey participants' ratings of digital camera manufacturers in two general areas: reliability and features. These results are drawn from our 2011 Reliability and Service survey of some 63,000 PCWorld readers. The other product categories covered in this survey were desktop PCs, laptop PCs, tablets, HDTVs, printers, and smartphones. For a closer look at the methodology we used in our survey to gauge manufacturer reliability and customer satisfaction, see "Reliability and Satisfaction: What the Measures Mean."

Notes and Quotes

Several points of statistical interest jumped out at us when we reviewed the survey results in this category, and one participant seemed to speak for many on the subject of usability:

• Canon beat the rest of the field in our survey on percentage of users reporting any significant problem with their camera over the past three years. Only 5.4 percent of Canon camera owners reported such a problem, versus 6.5 percent for owners of any brand of digital camera.

• Another win for Canon: 89.5 percent of Canon camera owners described themselves as "extremely satisfied" or "very satisfied" with their camera's picture quality.

• On our ease-of-use measures, survey participants rated Pentax and Kodak highest (as "extremely easy to use" or "very easy to use") and Fujifilm, Nikon, and Olympus lowest.

• Since 2007, camera ease of use has been declining steadily, from 64 percent of participants rating their camera as extremely or very easy to use in 2007 to 58.6 percent doing so in 2011.

• Camera owners in our survey reported significantly different rates of severe problems that rendered their cameras inoperable within three years of purchase. The rates for the seven biggest brands (in descending order) were as follows: Kodak (4.1 percent), Samsung (3.9 percent), Fujifilm (3.3 percent), Olympus (3.0 percent), Canon and Nikon (2.5 percent each), and Panasonic (1.5 percent).

• "Make it easier to use. [There are] too many screens to dig through for settings." --Fujifilm camera owner

Reliability

On our survey's camera reliability measures, Canon made a clean sweep of better-than-average ratings. Also turning in strong numbers were GE (with better-than-average marks for "problem on arrival" and "any significant problem") and Panasonic (with enviable results for "any significant problem" and "severe problem"). Only two companies finished significantly worse-than-average on any criterion: Fujifilm on "overall satisfaction with reliability," and Kodak on that measure and on "any significant problem."

Canon Cameras Are Most Reliable, Readers Say

BRANDProblem on arrivalAny significant problemSevere problemOverall satisfaction with reliability
Canon Better than average Better than average Better than average Better than average
GE Better than average Better than average Average Average
Panasonic Average Better than average Better than average Average
Casio Better than average Average Average Average
Nikon Average Average Average Average
Olympus Average Average Average Average
Pentax Average Average Average Average
Samsung Average Average Average Average
Fujifilm Average Average Average Worse than average
Kodak Average Worse than average Average Worse than average

Better than average Better than average Average Average Worse than average Worse than average

Features

On the subject of camera features, survey participants seemed especially enthusiastic about Nikon's offerings (five out of six better-than-average marks); Canon (three positives) and Pansonic (two positives) also acquitted themselves well in this area. Scoring significantly worse than the rest of the field on features measures were Fujifilm and Kodak, with five negatives each.

Nikon Owners Most Satisfied With Their Cameras' Features

BRANDBuilt-in flashLCD screenPicture qualityShutter response timeVideo qualityWarranty
Nikon Average Better than average Better than average Better than average Better than average Better than average
Canon Average Better than average Better than average Average Average Better than average
Panasonic Average Average Average Average Better than average Better than average
Casio Average Average Average Average Average Average
Olympus Average Average Average Average Average Average
Pentax Average Average Average Average Average Average
GE Average Average Average Average Average Worse than average
HP Average Average Average Average Average Worse than average
Samsung Average Average Average Worse than average Average Average
Fujifilm Average Worse than average Worse than average Worse than average Worse than average Worse than average
Kodak Average Worse than average Worse than average Worse than average Worse than average Worse than average

Better than average Better than average Average Average Worse than average Worse than average

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