Do not buy the FujiFilm FinePix E900 digital camera. In fact, don’t buy anything from FujiFilm, the maker of this and other digital cameras because the basic design has a flaw and even worse, they don’t stand behind their warrantee.
I purchased my Fuji FinePix E900 digital camera in the end of November of 2005. In the late spring of 2006 I noticed a speck of dust inside my camera’s lens. This would sometimes show up on an image and move around from spot to spot. I contacted Fuji technical support. They said for me to send it in when I had time but there was no rush. Usually the speck of dust was off center and not a problem although mildly annoying. It was rather odd that it had gotten in there. Since I use the camera every day I didn’t want to send it in. The warrantee does not run out until the end of November 2006 so it is still well within its covered period.
Over the summer it started giving the occasional error message. In the early fall the camera fully stopped working, giving a “Zoom Error” message that would not go away by resetting the camera. I contacted Fuji and they assured me they could turn it right around in 10 days although their normal time was 4 to 6 weeks (gasp!). I sent it in and reverted back to using my son’s Casio.
After about 10 days I got a letter from FujiFilm saying they will not service it under the warranty. Instead they insisted on charging $159 because there was some dust inside the camera. Actually, initially they said $150 but more on that later.
Their own technical service and support manager Dan Scarola told my wife on the phone that the company is making the cameras more cheaply so they don’t hold up in the field. He said that they are not making the cameras the way that they used to and that dust and dirt are able to get into them. The problem is the extending and retracting lens grinds and finally stops working. He said that the dirt is an accumulation over time, that they can’t fix the cameras and must replace the cameras but won’t do so under warrantee. He added that if you want their cameras to last you must use the special sealed rubber cases that are now on the market. (I kept my camera in a case to protect it when not in my hand in use – it was clean and well cared for. The only wear it showed was a little rubbing of the black plastic body from sliding in and out of the case.)
Over the past 15 years I have had many other digital cameras from Ricoh, Nikon and a Casio QV-2300UX which also has an extending lens. None of these cameras have ever had this problem with dust or dirt. We are not in a very dusty place. I keep my camera in a case in my pocket or backpack when not in use to protect it – I’m very careful with it. We live out in the country which is much cleaner and less dusty than an urban environment would be. If this camera can’t take it here then it is a very bad choice for anyone outside a clean room for being so poorly sealed. Even worse is FujiFilm’s failure to stand behind their warrantee.
The story actually gets worse. When we received the demand for $150 (yes, $150, not $159 which is what they charged) my wife called to find out why the camera repair wasn’t being covered under warrantee. During that conversation Mr. Scarola agreed to charge her credit card $100 and send a replacement camera. However, when we got the camera back it came with a receipt for not $100, not $150, but $159!
Knowing what I know now I would not buy any FujiFilm A.K.A. Fuji Photo Film U.S.A. inc camera and certainly not the fatally flawed E900. I would not recommend it to anyone else either – A $400 throw away camera is a waste. While you’re at it, Mr. Scarola so he will have letters from people explaining why Fuji should stand behind their warrantee, improve their design and treat their customers better. Maybe they’ll do better if they hear from enough people. If you want to help spread the word, make a link to this article as well. People need to know when vendors fail to live up to their promises.
If you are in the unfortunate situation of owning one of these cameras, keep it sealed in a tight rubber or plastic case when you are not using it. Perhaps a zip-lock baggy. According to their own technical support department, the camera will not hold up to normal dust, dirt, wear and tear of daily life.
Update: No news from FujiFilm but as Podchef says, contact the corporate offices too. Here is their web contact form.
Update 2008-02-03: Fuji E900 died twice, once under warrantee and once out of warrantee. Both times from dust in lense open/close gears. Fuji would not replace it either time even when in warrantee. A great many other people have reported this problem and Fuji did replace some of their cameras if the camera was under warrantee. Fugji’s repair manager told me that the cameras are considered throw-away’s and not expected to last.
This is a fundimental design flaw, common to many brands of cameras that use lens barrels that extend outward and then retract back into the camera. That sucks dusty air in through the cracks when the lense barrel opens, the dust settles and then when it closes the dust stays inside in the gears. Eventually this causes failure the gears to break or lock so the lense elements can nolonger move and the barrel freezes in place with a “ZOOM ERROR”.
I strongly recommend buying cameras with weather seals and possibly even waterproof. These are becoming more and more common and should hopefully be more durable lasting for longer. Since my replacement E900 is now dying I’m looking into a replacement. Suggestions appreciated. When I get one, I’ll post.
By the way, several people have noted that the warrantee replacement E900 cameras they got got worse battery life. That is definitely the case with mine as well. At first I thought it was just my batteries getting older but careful testing showed that it is indeed the second Fuji camera sucking more power and draining the batteries faster.