Sunday, May 27, 2007

RIP, Fuji Finepix Z1

*sigh* I am all for shiny brand new toys and I am not always able to resist the allure of being an early adopter, but I must say, I really did enjoy using my Fuji Finepix Z1, now a technologically ancient 2 years old. I have a fourth gen version on order at Best Buy since they hadn't managed to fix my "zoom error." When we purchased the Z1 back in 2005, we also paid an extra $50 for what the sales person assured us would protect my hefty investment (~ $350) from droppage, plagues of locusts, etc. After the first bump, I immediately took it in and fudged the facts a bit once the Geek Squad person dryly informed me that the Product Service Policy (PSP) did no such thing - it was merely an extension of the manufacturer's warranty, which incidentally, does not cover droppage or other natural occurances.

Thankfully, it was fixed for free, and then it suffered a small fall from my pocket again (on my birthday, no less!) So we took it in again and it got repaired again. Now normally, I would feel guily about supposedly duping Best Buy, but the truth is, the sales person duped me first. The policy never covered what he said it would (he's no longer at that store, by the way, I spoke with a manager who said that he would love to bop the folks who were using that tactic to sell PSPs). At this point, I was trying to use as much of the PSP to my advantage (under a spiffy "No Lemon" clause, if they couldn't fix my camera after three attempts and they deem it unrepairable, a PSP camera may be exchanged for one with comparable features and quality, though not necessarily price), since I am quite certain that I am still paying interest on it or something else that I charged in order to pay for it, somewhere (ah, the credit card/cash/food shell game! But that's another post...)

By the by, I waffle between feeling resentful and sorry for the Geek Squad folks at Best Buy - there are never enough of them, they have to wear what must be a somewhat uncomfortable outfit that I am sure is 50% + polyesther for durability, and clearly they are denied any sort of happiness. It just seems like the epitome of a soul-sucking job. And they have deal with some of the more computer clueless people in this world who know just enough to be not quite dangerous but think they do. On the other hand, there is a certain level of condescension and lack of creative thinking that seems to translate into mediocre customer service. Especially since there is usually no shortage of the blue-shirted Best Buy folk, who clearly have been threatened with having to wear a button down and tie if they so much as greet a person waiting for one of the Geek Squad folk.

Needless to say, Best Buy now has two levels of PSPs, one of which covers routine clumsiness. Good thing too, since the motor for the zoom sits in the same corner as the lens, which means that gravity naturally seems to pull that corner to the ground when it falls. Hence, the constant "Zoom Error." If that baby is even a tiny bit out of whack and not seated properly, the zoom won't go. I spent a good six months or so having to close and reopen the lens cover to get the error to reset and to somehow, magically, coax the lens or whatever, to take a seat and behave. Clearly, when I drop my camera I should either strap a cat or some buttered toast to it so that it drops flat. Now that I've paid extra for the added protection, I am bound not to drop this puppy - ever.

After playing with all of the floor models, the Fuji Finepix Z5 won out. It's got a nice heft, thanks to the all-metal body. As far as cameras go, it's not breaking new ground, as some of the reviews will attest, and it doesn't have the largest number of pixels. However, as I learned with the Z1, it's not just the pixel count, but how it gets used. Many of the shots I have taken on the Z1 were really good and have withstood being cropped or blown up to larger sizes. Geoffrey's been very sweet to encourage me to get my own DSLR (the job allows me to rather freely play with a great Canon Rebel XT), but I wanted something that could be chucked in a bag or used discretely without having to lug out a larger camera.

However, I wasn't going with the in-stock bright pink, no matter how many Hello Kitty totchkes I may own. One of the big reasons I had not replaced my Z1 (other than cost) was because it was the only iteration (one of my favorite words, it just has a satisfying crunch to it, don't you think? iteration) that came in black. Sexy, shiny, spying-for-some-secret-organization, black. I also couldn't bear going with the "Mocha Brown" version. Brown and Pink might be hot now, but what will I wear with it next year? (that's actually a joke, I don't consider myself that fashionable, though the amount I spend yearly on clothes might contradict that).

Best Buy has a great in-store display devoted to the Z5, though oddly enough it's not something that has caught on here in the States as much as it seems to have elsewhere. Perhaps it's because only the pink version is in stock. For all of the other cameras, the pink or red versions are special order only. According to many of the reviews I read, which were primarily from the UK, it's quite the little fashion accessory, and it's low light settings make it perfect for clubbing.

Thankfully, somewhere between the Z1 and Z5 the need for an additional dock was eliminated and a traditional tripod mount can be used on the underside of the camera. Since the Z1 didn't really lock into the dock, the thought of balancing a shallow tray with my camera onto a tripod just seemed silly. This means I can now get one of those Gorilla Pods. I am hoping that many of the things I loved about my Z1 have been carried forward in the Z5 though I am sure with the perverse nature of consumerism being what it is, a black version is just around the corner.

^_^ Liza


Anonymous said...

Hi, I also had zoom error message on my camera, its seem to be a common error on Fuji cameras but recently I found a great solution in a tech support site that helped me fix it! Here is the page for the Zoom Error Solution it got step by step information and photos!

Good luck

Liza said...

Thanks for the tip! In this case, thankfully, the warranty came though each time I needed to have the camera repaired and finally they decided just to give me a new one. I think in this case, the frame holding the lens may be a bit bent and preventing the mechanism from operating properly.

My guess is that Best Buy won't let me keep the old one, but I can certainly ask when I go to pick up the Z5!