Fujifilm: “Hi this is Neil.”
Me: “Hey Neil, Ian here. Thanks for returning my call. How are you?”
Fujifilm: “I’m well thanks… (pause) … is this THE Ian?”
Me (amused): “Yes! It’s me! Ian Tan from Fuji X Aus!”
It’s the first time in my life when someone has referred to me as THE Ian. Part of me is amused at the notion that I’m even mildly well-known. But I also feel a sense of affirmation that all the hard work we put in with the Fuji X Aus community is recognised by Fujifilm Australia and many of the staff there, like Neil Pash from their service department, recognise our names.
And the reason why I’m talking to Neil Pash from Fujifilm Australia over the phone is because I needed to organise a service for my X-H1 body and XF16-55mm lens. I’ve had my X-H1 for over a year now and it’s been with me all around Melbourne, to tropical Fiji and most recently to Cervantes, Western Australia, where I was filming some footage on top of some sand dunes. The XF16-55mm F2.8 lens is my most used lens and I’ve had it for 3 years. It’s a workhorse lens, but recently the aperture ring has started to stick a little, a sign that it was due for a visit to Dr. Fuji. I was recently approved for membership in the Fujifilm Professional Service (FPS) program so I thought it would be helpful to document my experience.
What is FPS?
Fujifilm Professional Service is a premium service offered by Fujifilm to professional photographers. The term ‘professional’ can mean many things but essentially it’s about photographers who earn a living from photography. As such, I rely on my Fujifilm camera and lenses to earn income, so if any of my gear requires servicing or repair, I need it to happen quickly and reliably so I can get on with my work.
Photographers who are part of the FPS program are afforded certain benefits such as:
- Priority repairs – All equipment sent in will be repaired in 3 working days. GFX equipment will be repaired in 2 days.
- FPS members are entitled to annual ‘health checks’ on 2 pieces of equipment, where they will be comprehensively checked and cleaned for free.
- Loan equipment can be organised if the repairs will take longer than the 2-3 working days.
- Finally, FPS members receive dedicated support over the phone or via email from the technical experts at Fujifilm.
Currently, the FPS program is free to join. To join the FPS program online, you will need to register an account with Fujifilm Connect here. This allows you to view the FPS page, but hold off on the celebrations – you haven’t joined the FPS program yet!
You will need to meet the following criteria to be accepted into FPS:
- Register ONE qualifying GFX body and ONE qualifying GF lens, purchased from an authorised Fujifilm retailer within the last 24 months, or
- Register TWO qualifying X-series bodies and THREE qualifying XF lenses, purchased from an authorised Fujifilm retailer within the last 24 months. (see the end of this article for details)
- You will need to register the camera(s) and lens(es) above by logging the serial numbers of your equipment and uploading the purchase invoice associated with that equipment.
- You also need to provide some information about yourself (name, contact details) and also details of your business website and social media channels. I presume this is another way that Fujifilm can try and verify that you’re a genuine working photographer.
Once you submit your application, Fujifilm will assess whether or not to accept it. You will receive an email from them advising whether your application was successful or not.
Not so fast…
One thing I was scratching my head about was about which X-series cameras and lenses qualified you for membership. Lenses that are excluded from the list include the F2-aperture family of mini primes (aka. Fujicrons) like the 23mm F2, 35mm F2 and 50mm F2, and also the more recent 16mm F2.8. I can understand that these are not the most expensive lenses in the Fuji lineup but they are indeed high-quality lenses and hugely popular amongst all Fujifilm photographers, including professionals, so I don’t really see the logic of excluding them from the qualifying lens list.
Similarly with camera bodies, the new X-T30 is an amazing piece of technology and fully capable of being used in a professional capacity. I personally believe it surpasses the X-T2 in terms of specs (except for the fact that it only accommodates one SD card). Even the venerable X-T20 and XPro-1 can produce professional-quality imagery. So I sincerely hope that Fujifilm will reconsider including more (if not all) of their bodies and lenses in the qualifying list. I suspect that the list will get reviewed periodically as new bodies and lenses get released, and older models become discontinued.
Getting the ball rolling
I recently applied, submitted all my paperwork and was successfully accepted into the FPS program, so I picked up the phone and called the Fujifilm Australia toll-free number: 1800 560 626. After listening to the automated response and selecting the relevant option, I was immediately put through to the service department in Sydney. A helpful staff member (Kelly was that you? :D) greeted me politely and I explained my situation to her. She mentioned that Neil was the appropriate person to speak to but he wasn’t at his desk presently so she took my details and said he would call back shortly. Around 5 minutes later, Neil returned my call. I explained briefly what I needed and Neil answered all my questions like:
Q. “Do I need to fill in the Camera Repairs Lodgement form?”
A. “You don’t have to but it’s helpful because it helps capture all the relevant details for us.”
Q. “Where do I send the equipment?”
A. “FPS Fujifilm Australia, PO Box 6368, Frenchs Forest, NSW 2086.” (It’s also listed in the Camera Repairs Lodgement Form)
Q. “How much will it cost?”
A. “When we receive your equipment, we will assess what needs to be done and email/call you with a quote before proceeding.”
Q. “Is it true that you think Melbourne is more awesome than Sydney?”
A. <crickets chirping>
I thought that perhaps I’d been disconnected but apparently Neil had muted the line momentarily because he experienced a sudden and debilitating fit of laughter. Thankfully he made a swift and miraculous recovery and I thanked him for answering all (well, most) of my questions and ended the call. I had some paperwork to do.
It isn’t mandatory to fill out any paperwork, provided you’ve at least called Fujifilm to let them know that you’re wanting to send in your gear to get serviced/repaired. However, having the paperwork ready will ensure that your gear and associated issues get dealt with properly and promptly, so I filled out the ‘Camera Repairs Lodgement Form’ found here.
One thing I would suggest to Fujifilm is to modify their lodgement form to also cater for lenses and other accessories like flashes. Currently their form assumes that you’re only sending in a camera body. However, I used the same form for my lens and flash that I was sending in and it was fine.
The information required includes your contact details (including where you want the gear shipped back to), the item, serial number, purchase date, the issue you want rectified (eg. lens aperture ring is sticky), or actions you want taken (eg. please perform health check). Finally, you also specify what accessories (if any) you shipped with the item (eg. battery, SD card, strap, etc).
I shipped my camera with a battery, but removed my SD card and strap. With my lens, I also packed the lens cap and hood. I always keep all my original boxes so I packed my gear in those. I then found a larger box to contain my 3 items, put in lots of bubble-wrap, sealed the box up and posted it.
I was very happy with the communication I received from Fujifilm. I got an email when they receipted my equipment at their repair centre in Sydney. In their email, they also re-confirmed which pieces of equipment I wanted to use my annual health-check quota on and once I replied, they proceeded with the service, post-haste.
Three business days later, I received another email saying the job was done and the gear was on its way back. Gotta love that simple, Japanese efficiency!
My equipment returned
From the time I posted my gear to Fujifilm, to the time I received it back, 5 days had elapsed. 1 day to get from Melbourne to Sydney, 3 days for the service, and 1 day to get it back. I was totally happy with that!
Upon opening my boxes, I found the included service reports for each piece of equipment I sent in. Essentially everything had a clean bill of health.
My X-H1 received a complimentary health check and sensor clean. But it also looks like they gave my body a thorough cleaning too. Every surface, nook and cranny was pristine. They had cleaned out the dust from the EVF and in between the dials. If I didn’t know better, it looks like they had swapped out my old camera for a new one. However, on starting up my camera, all my custom menu settings were exactly as I had them.
My XF16-55mm F2.8 lens had a sticky aperture ring before I sent it off to Dr. Fuji. Now it’s working perfectly again. It too received a full health check and cleaned up as best as possible.
My EF-X500 flash was dead before I sent it in. I’m not quite sure what was wrong with it but I wrote on the form: DEADER THAN MY BANK ACCOUNT AFTER A FUJI CASH BACK PROMO. I think they got the idea. Anyway, the flash works perfectly again. I suspect this time, they did give me a new (or at least refurbished) unit as it came wrapped in plastic. Either way, I’m happy as Charlie during a Fuji X Aus meetup.
We have plenty of great reviews of Fujifilm products. They certainly make cameras and lenses that are beautifully crafted, of great quality and enjoyable to use, However, they are tools and many of us will literally drag these things through hell and high water (yes Dale Rogers, I’m looking at you!) and they will need some TLC from Dr. Fuji.
All the major brands like Canon, Nikon and Sony have their professional support programs, providing pro-level support for working photographers and I’m really glad that Fujifilm now has one too. Having experienced it for myself now, I can heartily recommend the service to all the working pros out there shooting Fujifilm.
FPS is free to join, simple to access and a pleasure to deal with. They’ll get you back on the job with minimum fuss, which at the end of the day, it what working photographers really want.
Qualifying GFX camera/lens
Any GFX camera or lens
Qualifying X-series camera/lens
X-T3, X-H1, X-T2, XPro-2
XF56mm F1.2 (APD and non-APD versions)
XF80mm F2.8 Macro