Help regarding Zone VI warranty : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Am an original owner of a Zone VI 4x5, purchased late 1980s from Zone VI ... recall distinctly that Zone VI had best warranty on the market which was why I bought their camera after considering others... my recollection was that the lifetime warranty included repairs for accidents ... and may have even stated they would replace camera if it fell off a mountain. Am traveling and had strong gust of wind blow over tripod shattering several of the wooden standards which I have currently held together with glue ... to make a long story short Calumet, who bought Zone VI states that no such warranty ever existed and that Fred Picker's warranty was purely for defects in workmanship.... Are there any other original owners out there who have a copy of their original warranty or who could point me in the right direction for finding out what exactly Zone VI used to advertise ..... I once before had a similar accident with the camera early 90s and Zone VI had the camera fixed and sent out to me on location within a week so I know I'm not just fantasizing about what I would like the warranty to be ... Thanks for any help anyone can lend -- Rich

-- Richard Genova (, August 08, 2000


I knew there was a reason I saved all my Zone VI catalogues! On pg. three of the '92 edition appears a paragraph entitled "The best guarantee in the world" .....we guarantee to repair or replace it if it gets broken during the time you own it - no matter how it was broken. If you drop it off your truck or your tripod blows over or you fall on it... the offer is the same. In later issues, I recall seeing some exclusionary statement about gratuitous abuse or dunking. If you ask me, it appears you have a case. Good luck!

-- Robert A. Zeichner (, August 08, 2000.


Robert's quote is absolutely correct. I also have a bunch of the old Zone VI catalogues, and I even have my original paperwork/warranty, dating back to the early to mid-eighties. Fred Picker promised to repair these cameras, for the lifetime of the original owner, no matter how the damage was done.

I also recall the "dunking" disclaimer thing. Old Fred always wrote an informative, yet amusing and entertaining catalogue. He was also given shall we put this?...over-hyping his stuff. I remember his "best damned tripod in the world"; one would have thought he painstakingly handcrafted these monsters, one by one, in his quaint little Vermont workshop. Fred must have also been selling these tripods to surveyors all over the world. Every time I pass a construction site I see one of these "best damned tripods in the world", only it's painted bright orange.

If Calumet will honor Picker's warranty is another matter. They immediately limited their warranty, when they bought Zone VI several years back. I guess only an attorney could give you a definite answer.

Good luck, Sergio.

-- Sergio Ortega (, August 08, 2000.

I had a similair problem with my Zone VI enlarger. I have type I head and it head design defect that made it print with too mcu blue light. I found out that Zone VI had redesigned the head but did not notify its customer of the defect. It took me about 1 and half years to figure it out.Calumet also stonewalled me foe a very long time, about 4-5 months until I threatened to contact the Illinois Attorney Generals office for fraud.If have you reciept and a copy of that original guarantee I would think that it would worth it to contact the Attorney General's office. Good luck.

-- Arthur Nichols (, August 08, 2000.

Wanted to extend a very greatful thankyou to all who responded, armed with the quotes Robert and JC (from AOL forum) sent I again spoke to Calumet this morning and they agreed to repair the camera as per the original warranty. Thanks guys!!!

-- Richard Genova (, August 08, 2000.

Way to go, Richard. When I bought my Zone VI, Fred sent me a personally signed warranty, ON BEHALF OF ZONE VI IN HIS CAPACITY AS PRESIDENT! Zone VI was later sold to Calumet, who is responsible for honoring those warranties. I do note they have reduced the coverage of the warranty on the current cameras. On another note, has anyone noticed the address has been offered for sale? I don't guess Calumet will resurect that page in the future. I suppose they'll eventually phase out the name if they figure there's no more value in the name. They'll still be responsible for those warranties, however, and I, for one, will readily sue them to force compliance!

-- Alec (, August 08, 2000.

I must say that Calumet has proven themselves to be a top notch dealer by honoring the original warranty. This tells you that Calumet deserves all the business people can send their way. It is quite refreshing to see a company stand behind a product, even though a bit or proding may have been necessary.

-- Bill Smithe (, August 08, 2000.

I wouldn't agree that Calumet proved itself to be a "top notch dealer." After all, they initially tried to deny that the repair warranty even existed and only agreed to honor it after the customer proved that it did. I suppose it's possible that they didn't know about it, but it doesn't seem likely.

-- Chris Patti (, August 09, 2000.

I find it unfortunate that two companies, i.e. Calumet and Zone VI, which independantly were renowned for customer satisfaction and service, when joined, can completely ignore, botch up and destroy that reputation, for both of them. I also have had nightmare experiences with Calumet trying to deal with repairs on Zone VI products after the merger. It seems nobody at Calumet bothered to take the time to figure out what Zone VI was all about and become conversant with their products and services. Too bad. I will no longer order any Zone VI products from Calumet for this very reason - too much risk and down time involved if something goes wrong. As for the Zone VI website, I think Calumet originally wanted to give Zone VI some independence to market their products themselves, but this was quashed by Calumet's parent company (Ciba-Geigy I believe, the parent company of Ilford as well!). Bigger is hardly ever better when it comes to personal service! Regards


-- Doremus Scudder (, August 09, 2000.

Watch out for Calumet! I returned an item to Calumet 7 weeks ago, and I have yet to receive a credit. Calumet is unable to find my package and cannot confirm or deny that they have received it. They say that their new software system has "screwed up returns real bad." So much for their "world-class" customer service.

I was thinking of sending my Pentax meter in for Zone VI modification. Now I am afraid to let them "modify" it. Who knows what they will do to it.

-- William Marderness (, August 09, 2000.

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