The Fujifilm XF1 Lens Control Error

The Fujifilm XF1 failed a few weeks ago. It developed a Lens Control Error, which, it turns out, is common with these cameras.

You can watch the following disassembly video to see what’s happening.

They’re looking at the lens assembly. A ribbon cable connencts the lens at the front of the tube to the camera body. That ribbon cable is attached to the sections of the tub, and the cable flexes.

The flexing eventually damages the cable. I’d say this is a design flaw, but, that’s neither here nor there – all cameras eventually fail, and the only question is whether it’s worth repairing.

Replacement cables can be purchased on Ebay for around $12. Entire lens assemblies are sold for around $35.

So, this is a fixable issue, but it does take some skill. Moreover, once refurbished, the camera won’t look good because the faux-leather stickers will have been damaged to remove the screws holding the case together.

The market value for this camera is around $80 to $130 shipped.

Is it worth it? I don’t know yet.

A Replacement Camera – A Nikon D80 with a 28-80mm Lens

I wanted to get my cost-per-photo down, so I started to look at easier-to-repair point-and-shoots similar to the XF1, like the Canon S120 GX5 and other Fuji X series. Yikes! The prices were quite high.

So I looked at DSLRs. They were a lot cheaper, surprisingly. DSLRs can take tens of thousands of photos before breaking, so they are cheaper to maintain.

Right off the bat, I noticed that the quality of photos coming out of the D80 was lower than those coming out of the XF1 (or the Canon S100).

The XF1’s sensor seems to be really good compared to the others. It showed cleaner detail than the D80’s. Additionally, the lens on the XF1 is fast, so it works a little better in low light.

I was surprised, given the fact that, for its day, the D80 was considered the prosumer model to get.

Costs

The D80 was bought for around $130 shipped from Ebay. It came with two lenses, a Nikon 28-80mm lens, and a similar Quantaray lens. I lucked out because these are good for photographing small objects. (A telephoto is useless to me.)

The camera sensor needed cleaning, and the lenses didn’t have containers, so I’m spending another $30 to buy a cleaning kit, and lens pouches.

So the total spend is going to be $160.

In comparison, I lucked out on the XF1 and got it for under $50.

Cost Per Photo?

I looked into my “Pictures” folder, and found 3,579 photos that have a file name that’s like the Fujifilm filename.

If I were to by another used XF1, and it failed after the same number of photos, my cost per photo could be 2.2 cents each.

If I were to fix my camera for $12, and get another 3,500 photos out of it, that would cost 0.3 cents per photo.

I’ve owned 2 Canons, and they have taken 6,581 photos. I think they cost $80 and $100, so $180 total. 2.7 cents per photo.

I’m going to need to take 7,272 photos with this DSLR to get to a cost of 2.2 cents per photo. I bought the camera with nearly 7,000 clicks, so I need to get to around 15,000 clicks before it breaks.

Note that I’m talking about cost per photo retained, not the cost to push the button on the camera to take a photo. I delete most of the photos.

Repair or Sell?

I have the XF1 for sale, cheaper than anyone else seems to be selling it.

If I get all my stuff listed, and product starts to sell again, I will look into repairing it. If I learn to repair it well, I could turn that skill into just buying XF1s for $25 or so, fixing them for $12, and flipping them for $70.

I have an iPhone and another point-and-shoot, so lack of a camera isn’t going to stop me, but lack of time is a whole other thing.

Author: John

I can be reached at johnk@riceball.com.

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