At the end of December, my Fuji X-T3 fell off a table and landed on the floor. The bad news: it broke and wasn’t usable. The good news: the lens that was attached to it — the 100-400 that is more expensive than the camera body — was fine.

But this meant I needed to go in for repair with Fuji, and I was going to pay the doofus fee to get the camera working again.

It is now February 2, the camera is back, and I thought it might be interesting to discuss the process, the results, my expectations and some thoughts on what worked well and where Fuji could improve their operations.

I’ll say this at the start: Fuji overall met my expectations, in terms of speed, quality and cost. They were fine. The people I talked to there were great, and while I haven’t tested the body extensively, it came out of the return package shiny and clean (including the sensor) and looking basically brand new, and a few early test images look fine.

A quick timeline:

  • I handed the body to UPS 12/28
  • Fuji signed for the package 1/2
  • I received an invoice for approval via U.S. Mail 1/19 with a quote of $587.02
  • I approved the invoice 1/19 online
  • I got a phone call with an updated estimate on 1/23 because after they started taking it apart, they found more damage (I’m really good at dropping cameras, evidently)
  • I approved this updated quote 1/23 via phone
  • My credit card was charged for the repair on 1/29
  • I got the shipping notice it was coming back on 1/29
  • I received the camera 2/1 via Fedex

Final cost of the repair: $714 including parts, labor, tax and return shipping.

They had to replace parts of the top and front chassis, the main powerboard, a CCD, the lens mounting system, and various other parts. Did I say I was really good at dropping things?

My initial estimate was the repair would cost 50% of buying a new replacement. The initial quote was below that, the final quote was still a bit below that. So, no complaints on the price.

Sending the body off for repair

The first step, obviously, was figuring out how to get the camera to Fuji. This is where I discovered two things:

  • Fuji has no professional services for the X-Tn cameras, and if you search online, this has been an ongoing, low-level gripe about them. They have just rolled out a professional services program for the new GFX line, and I hope that gets expanded to the rest of their pro-caliber systems, but at this point, it’s not avaiable for the Fuji X line.
  • The way you send something to Fuji for repair is you fill out a form, print it out and stuff it in the box with the camera, and send it off to the repair depot. Their signing for the package on receipt is your confirmation they received it.

This second point bothered me. There was no way to register with them the camera was coming. There was no way to confirm the camera was in their system. I had to trust that a $1500 camera was in the system and wait for them to get around to confirm that.

Which took two weeks, and arrived via U.S. mail on paper. Why isn’t this done via email, saving 3-4 days of delay waiting for USPS to deliver? Why can’t I register the repair before sending and have an online location to monitor status?

Where Fuji needs to step it up

This all seems so — old school? so “how little money can we spend on this”? It feels really 1990’s to me, and it’s hard to take Fuji seriously as a pro camera with this level of support.

I have had to send items in for repair twice in the past, both many years ago (fortunately): once to Canon, and once to Tamron. The Tamron lens got sent off, tracked and returned in a couple of weeks. The Canon lens repair had much better tracking, but Canon botched the repair the first time, finally took it back and fixed it again (technically, “under warranty” not admitting the first repair was botched) and the lens still wasn’t as sharp as it was before I dropped it, and I ended up selling it.

So in general, I’m much happier with a good repair by Fuji than good tracking of a bad repair by Canon, but Fuji needs to do a better job of this if it wants to be taken seriously by the pros. They seem to recognize this with the GFX, and I hope it expands out, but right now, if I were a pro this would be a pain point for me.

Another aspect of this: because there’s no professional service option and there’s no way, when setting up the repair, to find out expected timeframes for the repair or set up expedited repairs — because you don’t actually set up the repair, you just ship it off and wait for them to set it up and contact you.

Is Fuji’s repair service good enough?

I went into this repair expecting a quality repair, to pay around half the cost of a new camera body, and to have it turned around in about a month. Fuji met or exceeded all of that, am I’m happy with the results (pending more extensive testing once the rain ends).

That said, I’m an amateur shooting for myself, who carries a second body that’s quite good enough to carry the load when I need it to — which it did quite well on my trip to Piedras Blancas last weekend. I could risk going with one body and not worry about things if it failed, too.

So for me, this is fine. I’d like the initial contact to be pro-active and not reactive: setting up the repair online before shipping, with online status and quotes and approval; that could have cut as much as a week out of this repair, and reduced the stress wondering if a $1500 camera got lost in the shuffle while I waited for some confirmation of receipt.

I could have, if I wanted, borrowed Laurie’s X-T2 to carry two bodies, or rented one, but it was a good excuse to push the X-T20 hard and see how it went, and I’ll write about that soon (TL;DR: really happy with it). I didn’t need to, and waiting a month for the body to return was fine. I’ll give the thing a B grade.

If I’m a pro, depending on this gear for my living, I think Fuji’s setup is more problematic. The lack of professional services with expedited repairs is an issue I’d have to plan for, either by owning more spares, or being more aggressive at rentals if problems crop up — either way that’s more expenses to the business.

When I look at the GFX program they’ve recently announced, it solves the problems I have with Fuji’s repair programs, so if they roll it out to the X line as well, I think that takes care of my issues — except they haven’t yet.

But my bottom line: while this is fine for me as an amateur, if I were a pro shooting Canon or Nikon and looking to make the jump to mirrorless, when I compared professional service offerings between Sony and Fuji as one of the factors in my decision, the current repair program for Fuji X would be a moderate factor in pushing me towards Sony right now. Fuji’s service offerings for a pro just aren’t good enough yet, even if the GFX gives me hope that a year from now that’ll no longer be true.

Today, if I were starting the move from Canon that I started in 2013, I’d probably choose Sony, in large part because of the service program. And I expect that’s on factor in why so many more pros who’ve moved to mirrorless went Sony over Fuji, because technically, both platforms are really damned good sets of hardware.

Fuji has some fairly easy improvements that can be done to their service program for moderate investment that could make them much more attractive to pros. They seem to realize this, and have started doing that with the GFX — here’s hoping they follow through and expand it to cover all of their pro quality cameras.