Overall, SquareTrade predicts that 5.9% of cameras will fail within the first year, with 2.4% of those failures attributed to accidental damage. A further 4.8% of cameras are said to fail within the second year -- a lower rate of both malfunctions and accidents than in year one. Projections extrapolated from the first two years suggest that some 15.6% of cameras will fail to survive the first three years.
The company also found that failure rates fall as camera cost rises, as one might expect. Budget models in the sub-US$150 bracket saw a 7.4% failure rate in the first two years, falling to 6.8% for $150 - $300 models, 4.8% for $300 - $500 models, and 4.0% for cameras priced at $500 and above.
The report also breaks down failure rates by brand in three categories: sub-$300 point and shoots, $300 - $500 premium point and shoots, and digital SLRs. Unfortunately, even with a sample size of some 60,000 units, not all brands were adequately represented in the higher categories to appear in the results -- likely due both to greater unit share for budget cameras, and perhaps a lesser inclination to buy third-party warranties with more expensive cameras.
The results make interesting reading nonetheless though, and will prove heartening for owners of Panasonic's cameras. The company was found to have the lowest failure rate among major brands in both the sub-$300 and $300 - $500 categories -- 5.3% and 1.9% respectively. Among other brands, the results were more mixed by category, with Fujifilm (6.1%), Olympus (6.2%), Sony (6.2%) and Canon (6.4%) rounding out the top five for budget cameras. For premium models, Nikon (3.1%) took second place, with Sony (3.6%), Olympus 4.2%) and Canon (6.2%) close behind. Nikon's results were the most divergent by category, with its second place for premium camera reliability tempered by a seventh place result among budget models, trailing slightly behind the pack along with Kodak and Pentax. Finally, Polaroid and Casio lagged the field by a significant degree, with two-year failure rates of 11.9% and 13.0% respectively.
For digital SLRs, only two brands were sufficiently represented in SquareTrade's sample to merit comment - Canon and Nikon. As one might perhaps expect, both brands were said to show similar reliability in this market segment.
Further details can be found in the SquareTrade digital camera failure rates study.