I Wondered Why I Couldn’t Find a Review of the Intrepid MK4, Now I Know Why

I Wondered Why I Couldn’t Find a Review of the Intrepid MK4, Now I Know Why

For months and months I was looking into buying a large format camera and really thought the Intrepid MK4 was the best option. I looked all over for a review on the camera without any luck. It’s starting to become clear why. 

I will start by saying that I placed my order for an Intrepid MK 4 Black model after the COVID-19 crisis was in full swing. I believe that I have been more than patient with them given the circumstance and quite honestly, my frustration with them has little to nothing to do with the timing of everything in the world. Indeed, my major frustrations can be quickly articulated as an astounding lack of communication and transparency wrapped up in the backwards priorities. If you don’t want to read to the end, the summary of my experience is that I am beyond frustrated with Intrepid Camera and have begun to regret my decision to do business with them. It seems that no one has done a review on this model because photographers that would do a review have yet to receive their camera.

At this time I would like to note that the lead image has nothing to do with this camera or this story. I do not have a photo of a camera I don't have nor can I take photos with a camera I don't have. I decided on that one because I like it. 

If you have any interest in the details of why I am frustrated with Intrepid, it starts with them releasing the “limited run” Black edition on the 27th of March. For those that are unaware, by that time the United Kingdom was already in full response with the Coronavirus Act being passed on the 24th of March. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they were unable to anticipate just how much things would change and, as such, unable to give an accurate lead time. They did, however, actually make an adjustment to the lead time in response to the changing world. Shortly before the Black edition was released, they were telling prospective buyers that the lead time was 1-2 weeks. By the time the 27th rolled around the advertised lead time was 2-3 weeks. 

An exchange between Intrepid Camera and a friend of mine

Someone could argue that given the “limited” nature of the camera (they advertised that the run would be limited to 150) they could have ensured that all of the parts needed to assemble the cameras were already in stock before they released the camera for sale. Someone could also argue that perhaps they should have prepared the cameras prior to releasing the camera for sale. After all, in an IGTV session they held shortly after the Black edition went live, they stated that they sell hundreds of cameras a month. As such, selling 150 Black edition cameras should be within reason, right? Still though, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and say that their business model (right or wrong to you or me) dictates that they don’t properly prepare inventory before an item goes up for sale. In this situation, it sounds like they like to count their proverbial chickens before they hatch. 

After 3 weeks without receiving a single email, I will admit that I was pretty frustrated that I had not heard a single word from them. I would have thought for sure that if they were running late on production, they would have sent an email or something. Then, after a few more days, there was an email on the 23rd of April. At that point, I could only think of two things that must have happened. They either: A) had no time to communicate to customers the delay they were experiencing or B) had not yet understood just how behind schedule they were. With that said, however, they made a solid 21 posts on Instagram with even more posts to their stories, so I doubt they were unable to communicate with customers. And, as for B), they only sent out an email after the 3-week mark had passed for the majority of customers who bought the Black edition. How do I know this you ask? Great question. On the IGTV session they had 1 week after the camera was released, I asked them how many cameras they were making and how many cameras were still left. They responded that most sales were done as soon as the camera was released, with (I believe) 20-ish cameras left for order. Three weeks from that IGTV session, they sent out the email that they were running late due to COVID-19. I cannot help but believe they sent out that email in response to a large number of people wanting to know why they have not yet received a shipping notice within the 3-week timeline as advertised. 

Once again, I found myself in a position where I’m making excuses for them. I had given back the 4x5 as soon as I ordered my camera, thinking for sure I could wait 4ish weeks. I bought several boxes of sheet film in anticipation and started shopping around for lenses. A close friend of mine who knew when I ordered my camera eventually asked me when I was expecting mine and I threw out what seemed reasonable at the timeline but was ultimately foolish in retrospect. 

The WTF Moment

My tipping point came on the 6th of May. I had emailed Intrepid on the 4th only for them to continue more and more excuses on why the camera had not yet shipped. I asked simply for when I could expect the camera and I was told “next week” and that they “are running a little behind the estimated lead time due to restrictions caused by the current situation in the U.K.” Nevertheless, I bought my camera for a very specific purpose in mind and, at the time, I thought for sure that even if they were a week or two beyond the 3-week estimate, I’d still have my camera in time. On the 6th the ground shifted below my feet and the entire reason I ordered a camera when I did went out the window. I cannot express in words just how frustrated I was. 

Intrepid Camera's response to my inquiry

On the 7th of May I heard from a buddy of mine in France that he had received his shipping notice earlier in the week. He ordered his camera after me. So, there I was – waiting to get a shipping notice and knowing that someone who ordered their camera after me has already had their camera shipped. How is this possible? It shouldn’t be possible, right? Their response was “I’m not sure how that happened, perhaps he/she had emailed requesting it to be shipped quicker.” 

My second email to Intrepid Camera

Intrepid Camera's response to the above email

Another “wtf” moment I’ve experienced was when they decided to do away with the “limited” nature of the Black edition and add it to their site for full time availability. If you’re like me and bought the camera partly as an investment, the exclusivity of the Black edition was attractive. Instead, they’ve released the camera again without a limit on their sales and are advertising a 4-week lead time. 

It’s Not COVID-19

In venting about my frustration to a close friend of mine, he mentioned that he has only known one other person to order a camera from Intrepid and had a very similar story. I reached out to this guy in Cincinnati, OH and asked him to give me a run down on his experience with them. His first message was “Yeah, it just took forever” and was followed up immediately with “when I ordered they said it had an 8-week lead time but ended up being 14 weeks. Seems pretty standard from other people’s experiences” and followed up with another message immediately after saying “The camera is great but the business model of over promising and under delivering was just very frustrating to me.” That last message really sat with me. I asked him where he has heard of other photographer’s experiences and he said it was on their Facebook page and on forums. It became clear that I had not been looking for answers in the right place. 
It should be noted that the above individual ordered his camera well before the COVID-19 crisis became a pandemic.

An exchange over Instagram with a friend of a friend and the only person I've known to order an Intrepid Camera

Moving Forward

At the time of writing, it is 4 AM on the 11th of May in the U.K. and I have still yet to receive an email from them. That is, it is safe to say that the 10th of May date that they told me didn’t hold up. At some point I assume I will get the camera. Should things go on for a couple more weeks with no resolve, I fully expect to seek a refund. Should I actually get the camera, I will obviously use the camera and will eventually write a review for it while attempting to remain as objective as possible, even if that means holding off on publishing a review until I am no longer frustrated. 

Have you ever ordered a camera from Intrepid Camera? Did you have a positive experience? A negative one?

Update: As of the 12th of May, the camera is on its way. Six weeks to the day from when I ordered it. 

James Madison's picture

Madison is a mathematician turned statistician based out of Columbus, OH. He fell back in love with film years ago while living in Charleston, SC and hasn't looked back since. In early 2019 he started a website about film photography.

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Writing a whole article to complain about the slow customer service you received during a pandemic might be the most Karen thing ever.

I suppose you can call me Karen. Haha

I'm going to guess you didn't read the article. No one cares about slow customer service. It's about poor customer service that has been an issue since before COVID-19 was affecting the UK or US.

I did read the article, twice, and can find nothing about "piss poor customer service that has been an issue since long before COVID-19 was affecting the UK or US"

It reads as a rant about Intrepid and nothing more, there is a hell of a lot worse happening than a delayed delivery of a camera at this time.

Oh no I hate racism! What was the racism against white ladies? I don’t understand. Please don’t ignore Mr. Bros like you have done before. Thanks!

Always nice to meet a fan. "Karen" isn't a slur. It's a pop culture meme used to describe any entitled person who punches down at others. It just happens to describe a lot of a certain type of white woman no matter how many cameras happen to be rolling. Like publishing an entire article about a company during a pandemic you don't have to do business with because you're not happy doing business with them.

lolololol at thinking "Karen" is a "racial slur"

y'all need new material

Wow Dud, chill out, you lost it, you're the one triggered here.

For 'Karen' to be recognised as a racial slur would be 'peak Karen'. Using your own shitty attitude/personality as a crutch to play the victim when all you really have to do is not be an asshole.

Hey funny to see someone all new, no fstoppers has most of the time better content, especially when compared to other more gear oriented sites. May i ask, what other photoblogsites you visit? Id just like more to read, especially in these times

Fstopper is amazing, trust me, and yes, this post is sub-par to stay polite. Apparently there is no review and contributors can just post want they want. 3 4 times a year there's such a post, and feel free to come yell in the comments.

But honestly reading about such an entitled American complaining for what seems to be weeks of patience to get an item through pandemic times is setting the bar way lower than it had ever reached.

One assumes you couldn't afford an Ebony - given part of your purpose is investment.

Intrepid are cheap. Get over it.

Ebony ceased operations in 2016.

I know.

I feel your frustration, but you have to account for the fact that the pandemic means business as usual is interrupted. It means shipping dates are going to slip and it means communication problems will occur.

I know you state others have had poor customer service _before_ Covid-19 affected this business, but its purely anecdotal and based on hearsay. You don't have first hand-experience about how the company operates when supply chains all over the world are going up in flames.

I get that you are frustrated, but something about this article strikes me as tone-deaf. Six weeks to ship under the circumstances seems rather reasonable...I waited longer for Amazon to ship me paper towels

Try a Chamonix from China. They're MUCH better quality, and ship faster. I started in LF with an Intrepid 4x5 (v.2 I think), and it ended up where it belongs: in the trash. I got tired of trying to make repairs on a brand new camera.

The Chamonix does look gorgeous.

I had heard similar things about intrepid. In the end I bought a Chamonix F-2 and I am very glad I did. It is very well made. Also, Hugo Zhang responds very quickly to emails. It took 3 weeks for me to get my camera from China and that's only because the camera was stuck in customs for 2 weeks.

ordered my 8x10 on March 21 and dispatched on the 15th of April. Took another three weeks through Parcelforce, but finally came in. I know lead times have been an issue in the past, but thought they got through their backlog this winter and I saw the lead times go down from 8 weeks to six weeks (for 8x10 )when I bought mine. I've heard communication has been bad in the past as well, but they were very communicative with me throughout the purchase.

What the heck Fstoppers, you're letting your contibutors play Karen on your platform? That's a new low. No one cares about you not being able to wait 6 weeks in the middle of a pandemic (or not) James. Take your rants to Reddit and spare the blogs. Everybody had multiple stories about crappy customers services but we don't want to read them. Seriously...

Let me get this right your complaining you have not got your Large format camera
When there is a pandemic happening people are losing there jobs company’s are going under and people are dying.

I also think Fstoppers are idiots for allowing this to be posted on your page and completely devaluing there brand.

Worst case of failing to "read the room" I've ever seen.
Here's a quote from YOUR May 1st article right here on Fstoppers (remember - YOU wrote this).

"Now, with people around the globe affected by COVID-19, we as a people will never forget the indelible impact this virus has had on the world".

Fair to say that custom camera deliveries were one of those "impacts" you made note of in that article.
I'm pretty sure you can do better than complaining about camera delivery times during a worldwide pandemic that's already taken 300,000 lives, and continues to take more lives at a still unbelievable rate.

Authors get paid by the clicks, best to not click on stuff like this, it is whiny and it is ultimately click bait so we can see what the fuss is about. F-Stoppers shouldn't run this kind of stuff.

Well, you must have missed this first impressions video from a month ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfVhPFhP9PU

Or this more extensive review from the end of April: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9MQYvGfPwI&feature=emb_title

I did not miss those reviews - they did not exist at the time the Black Edition came out (i.e., when I was doing my research into buying an Intrepid). I don't even think either were published prior to the Black Edition selling out since that happened in early April these came out just a couple weeks ago.

Fair enough.

Tell you what: I'll accept that that's a good point if you're willing to accept the point that its really weird that you wrote this article in May and didn't bother to mention the videos that have since appeared. Honestly, it's super awkward and puts Fstoppers in a poor light.

My Intrepid 4x5 MkIV took 5 months to get here from the time I ordered it, so... I feel ya. That said, Intrepid was helpful when the camera became stuck in a distro center in Chicago. They contacted the distro center directly and offered to send me another camera via a faster and more trustworthy shipping company.

Out of curiosity, how much of the 5 months was spent in Chicago and how much was spent, waiting for it to ship?

Hello James, Maxim from Intrepid Camera here, just wanted to address a few points you make in this article if thats ok.

TLDR; Sorry we weren't perfect at communicating with you, Covid disrupted our customer service, suppliers and assembly line more than anyone could have expected. There are quite a few reviews of the MK4, not sure why you couldn't find any. The camera shipped on the 11th (the day this article was posted). We were not aware of the article until today.

Sorry you were not able to find any reviews/first-looks/overviews on the MK4 here are a few links to some. as to the claim that no photographers have received a MK4 camera, we have shipped 751 MK4s in the last 12 months and over 100 Black Edition MK4s











The reason your camera was delayed is the obvious one really. A global pandemic that had massive and unforeseen effects on global supply chains and the way we work. As a manufacturing company we were able to stay open but we had to massively adjust the way we worked and could only have 3 people in the workshop at any one time, instead of the usual 8. buy juggling when people work we were able to keep production going pretty smoothly but not quite as efficient as we would like.

The main problem we had was the agreements made with suppliers when launching the Black edition 4x5 didn't work out after the virus started to rapidly take hold in the uk. Anyone who is working on any kind of project at the minute will know that the usual chain of supply is just not functioning properly. you yourself have experienced this, you needed the camera for a project and it arrived late. the hundreds of components on your camera come from a variety of suppliers, they almost all got to us far later than originally organised. Which is completely fair, there is a global pandemic.

What we got wrong was communicating the reality of the situation to you, for this I am sorry and would humbly ask that you understand that this is not the way we normally deal with people (you can see from the comments on this article that most people have had a very positive experience with us) The reason our communication with you was spotty at best for a few weeks is that we relocated our customer service staff to their homes, there was quite a bit to do in order to get this working smoothly, software to install, computers to purchase and move etc all whilst trying to fix every other problem Covid had caused. I'm sorry you were trying to get more info from us during this time but we just didn't have the capacity to deal with the torrent of Covid related emails.

Your friends camera shipped a few days earlier because we sometimes batch bigger shipments by country to keep shipping costs down. A saving we pass onto customers.

I hope this clears a few things up for you, The email that was sent to you on the 7th May did give you a correct shipping date, but yeah we probably should have sent you that email a few days earlier.

Just checked the tracking and looks like your camera is in the US and should be with you soon, I'm sure you will love using it and a bit of time away from the computer is always good!

Best, Maxim

Hey Maxim,

Thank you for getting back. Of the 10 videos you shared there, only 2 are proper reviews that came out before the release of the Black edition and only 1 of those are in English. The fact I did not find that one when I was looking is indeed on me. That said, in that one "review" by Lee Pengelly, he states multiple times that he has actually not used the camera and did not yet have a lens for it. As someone who reviews cameras for this site, I put little to no stock in a review where the photographer has yet to make even a single photograph with the camera.

I do understand that with the world as it is, decreased production is to be expected - I really do. I care far less about things taking longer than expected than I do about the complete lack of communication with people who bought the cameras compared with the communication with potential customers via Instagram. That is, more than 20 posts on IG were made between releasing the camera for sale and when an update was sent to your customers. In that timeframe, Intrepid made multiple posts to stories stating that production was running on schedule.

In my research for this article I found that my experience is far from an exception. Obviously, I do not have any information on the frequency of this sort of issue but it is not something limited to me alone. The majority of complaints I have seen/heard of predate the COVID-19 crisis. I acknowledge, however, those complaints, mine included, are not the norm. Just refer to the comment immediately above yours - it took the guy 5 months to get his camera. I wish he would have delineated what part of that was it being stuck at the distribution center and what part of it was waiting on the camera to ship. Still, it was good to hear your company worked to get it dislodged from it's stuck position in Chicago.

I appreciate your explanation of batch shipping. Perhaps the rep working for Intrepid should be informed of this rather than stating "perhaps they emailed requesting (the camera) be shipped quicker" which is very frustrating to hear. And, for what it's worth, if in fact your company does batch shipping to reduce costs, I think that it's worth mentioning on your website and factoring into the lead time. I cannot find anything on your website that discusses waiting past the lead time for batch shipping.

For what it's worth, I am still excited about the camera and promise to write a review for it as objectively as I possibly can. I also promise that my review will come after I've shot dozens of frames with it and taken it hiking. That is, not an "unboxing review."

Thank you for taking the time to respond.

Come on Karen, peoples' livelihoods are being ruined from COVID and people are literally dying. This sounds mega entitled. I ordered a hammock in March (bit of Spring sun...got excited and planning on spending a lot of time at home) and it still hasnt arrived. I'm a bit pissed. But I havent written a click bait article to score a quick win. Am planning on ordering the 8x10 next week and am really excited - have heard its a class camera.

So nowadays when someone is unhappy about a purchasing experience, instead of simply asking for a refund, they write a narcissistic rant under the cover of an article... LOL...
I am fairly critical of Intrepid in some groups. There are things they need to improve but there are also things they do well. They even improved things people complained about before. There is nothing depicting a fair picture about them and nothing really constructive from your end here. If you only want your camera ASAP, you should have asked to talk to Max the owner and make a decision. I am sure they will have refunded you if needed so you can get a 4x5 locally the day after.
If you expect Leica service from a company targeting the affordable large format camera market, maybe the issue to address is your personal expectations.
There are tons of written feedbacks and reviews in groups by the way. Since you write, I assume you can read too. YT does not define existing content online.

I ordered mine June 29th and at that time lead time was quoted as 4-5 weeks. It’s now 10 weeks and no camera has been shipped yet. I do get an automatic email every few weeks telling me it will be delayed again.

That’s just the camera, I also later ordered the enlarger kit. God knows when I’ll ever see that.

As someone who runs his own online business and who got the shaft by the COVID situation, I recognize the challenge of it. I recovered and made alternate arrangements with a few weeks. I doubt delays at this point are COVID related.

I don’t care how good your camera is, if you folks over there in Intrepid don’t get this figured out soon it’s going to kill your business.