Lens chipping by Rolland Elliott: a very bad experience
This web page is a little report on a rather bad experience I had with the The Nikon lens chipping service of Rolland Elliott. Before saying anything else, I have to stress the fact that this is my personal experience. Some people have been very happy with Rolland Elliott services, and I give you a few links of satisfied customers: Bjorn Rorslett, Bobj and a few Nikonians. More Nikonians discussions here, here and here. I have no reasons not to believe he can do a good work, but I will let you judge how my case went on...
In a Nikonians discussion some people were mentioning the sometime long delay to get your lens back, or the somewhat 'abrupt' communication style of Rolland Elliott. I must say immediately that this did not bother me, except for the delay in email communications when answers required to wait a week. But hey, this is Internet, not some express mail company. I can understand that. The lens even came back faster than I expected! Door to door, I was separated from my lens mount for less than a month (remember there are two overseas shipments included here...) Of course, given the results, I wish he had spent some more time on it...
In some complains about Rolland Elliott that you will find on the Internet, people are simply shouting at each other, with no evidence or detailed comments but certainly contradictions. I will not go that way, I prefer to concentrate on the facts, now that I've cooled a bit. I sent him the lens mount of my AIS 200 f/2 on April 2004, and received it back on May 2004. The lens was bought second hand in March, in perfect condition. The mount, among others, was perfect. And here is what I discovered when I opened the cardboard box...
IIRC, that's all the problems I found on this mount. I think you will agree that I having a bad time here. But wait! Don't go! This is not over yet. I check my VISA account and discover that 105USD have been withdrawn by Rolland Elliott. The price advertised on his website was USD80 + USD15 for shipping, so what's going on? Here's the answer from Rolland Elliott, verbatim:
> Hi Rolland, > > you took $105 from my visa card, which is $10 over the > normal price ($80 + $15 int shipping). I'd like to know > why. my prices are now $100 per lens. Sorry, Rolland
Can you believe this?? I could not imagine receiving an answer like that. You can check his website, the price is still USD 80 now (July 2004). He could have sent me the money back if it was a recent change (that nobody is aware of), but no. No excuses, nothing. I wrote the official price in the letter sent with the lens mount, so VISA accepted my file and will check the transaction. Since the price of the shipping was USD5, I am expecting USD20 from Rolland Elliott. I'm not a dreamer though, but maybe VISA can help me? I wonder where will Rolland Elliott find something from me accepting a deal at 105USD...
I tried to propose a few things to Rolland Elliott, for example that he send me a new mount for my 200 f/2, so that I can do the transformation myself. The answer was 'too expensive' (which might be the case). He proposed me to send back the mount to re-align it, but I clearly did not want him to touch it anymore. Since no agreement could be found I filed the case to VISA to get back as much as I can. The lens was sent to Nikon to install a new mount (this is probably the most expensive way but at least I'll be able to sell the lens 10 years from now without a significant depreciation).
This page is written as a warning to people who plan to send something to Rolland Elliott. What I learned is:
I'm not saying ''don't go to him''. He's still the only one offering this, so if you really need it (like me) it's your only choice. But before doing it, think twice.
Some people have been happy with his services.
I'm definitely not.
I have received by the mail a replacement mount from Rolland. The mount is not the normal mount for the 200/2. Instead, it is a mount from a yet-to-be-defined AF lens since there is a hole for the mechanical AF in it. The black barrel has been cut to fit a 200/2 but a little bit too much as there is no place to firmly place the chip on it. This mount poses two serious problems with the 200/2:
So, as much as one can appreciate the commercial gesture of Rolland Elliott, it is not solving any technical issue that I have.
The rear mount and baffle were replaced by Nikon for an undisclosed large amount.
I now enjoy my 200 f/2 with the D2H, which does not require any chipping.
I recently noted that the price has increased to $115 per lens conversion, almost a 50 percent increase compared to a year ago...
It is also interesting to see that Rolland Elliott uses a 'very precise Dremell industrial drill that rotates at 30,000rpm'. It's very, very funny, because:
I received this email describing another bad deal with Rolland Elliott. Same problems, same incompetence from Rolland Elliott...
From: Andrew Kalman To: Damien Douxchamps Subject: Rolland Elliot's lack of a work ethic Date: Mon, 18 Jul 2005 20:01:09 -0700 (Tue, 12:01 JST) Hi Damien. I came across your website today -- thought you might like to know my experience. You're welcome to add this (verbatim) to your site. I should mention that all of the lenses I have were in mint or near-mint condition before sending them to Rolland for "chipping". The first lens Rolland did for me was a factory-AI'd 80-200mm f/4.5. He did a fine job. Then, I sent him two lenses at once -- 180mm f/2.8 ED (AI-S) and 300mm f/4.5 IF-ED (AI). When I got them back, I knew there were problems right away. And he also failed to wrap them as well as when they left me. But that's another story. In the case of the 300mm, not only did it (the chip) not work (you had to "jiggle" the lens to get it away from the dreaded "F--" message), but the inner "tube" that connects up to the rear lens flange was noticeably bent. And the lens-stop screw was no longer the correct one that was originally on the lens -- now it had a much smaller one that doesn't stop the lens properly. And the electrical contacts were clearly not mounted properly, due to an incorrect drilling of the screw holes in the mount. And he was using screws with fine threads (for metal) when in fact he should have been using Nikon's coarse-thread screws (for screwing into the plastic of the contact block) to hold the contact block to the lens flange. In the case of the 180mm lens, the contact block's position was waaaaay off. Not a chance of it working. I emailed him, pointing out these errors in detail, etc. His answers did not in any way instill confidence in me that he could make the lenses work as they should. He offered a "Send it back, I'll fix it" sort of thing. Nor did he offer any refunds, etc. I thought about this for a while, and ultimately decided that sending them back to him was only another invitation for him to damage these lenses further. I no longer let him anywhere near my lenses. This happened in August of 2003. I get the impression that while he may mean well, I feel he does not have the tools nor the abilities of a competent machinist that are required to do this sort of work accurately, repeatably, and elegantly. I wish someone else were offering this service using Nikon parts. As a reasonably accomplished machinist with access to a complete, well-stocked machine shop, I can tell that his handiwork is not one of a machinist. I recently managed to fix the 300mm lens. I straightened the huge dent in the inner "tube", and was able to locate the contacts properly. But it still wouldn't work. Eventually I realized that my lens (an AI lens) only stopped down to f/22, and the chip required that the lens stop down to f/32 before the camera body (in this case, an F5) would read the aperture correctly instead of "F--". I ended up modifying my lens (internally -- it's invisible from the outside) to stop down "an extra click" to f/32, and now it all works fine. But this mod entailed quite a bit of machining. So it's clear to me that he never even tested this lens, as it could not have worked at all on the AI version of my lens (but could have worked on the AI-S version, which stops down to f/32). Since then I've also obtained a 200mm f/2 AI-S that had been chipped before I bought it. It was used by a pro, and the chipping on it is fine. I'm sure Roland did it, too, at some time in the past. So two of the conversions I own are fine, one is fine after I did a lot of work to fix it, and one will probably never be fine. I certainly cannot recommend that anyone send their lenses to Rolland. -- ______________________________________ Andrew E. Kalman, Ph.D.
More links to unhappy customers:
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