The Fuji scam

A friend was showing me her new Fuji Finepix F601 camera over lunch on Saturday (note how the information in the table is presented, and which specification is in bold).
“It’s SIX megapixels and I got it for only S$600!”
She added that it was originally worth S$1000 but she got a trade-in deal.
Hmm. Something still didn’t sound quite right. I’ve been looking around for a 5 megapixel camera (Nikon 5700, Olympus 5050), and their price range is around S$1300-1800. Which I thought was reasonable.
I remembered what my ex-colleague, who wrote for our newspaper’s Tech Desk, warned me about when I was planning to purchase my own digital camera, three years ago: that Fuji misleads buyers into thinking they’ve got a camera with more megapixels, when actually there are two sets of numbers and naturally they quote the higher number, which other brands do not use.
Fuji quotes ‘effective pixels’, which, in other-brand-speak, means the normal number we use to describe how many megapixels the camera has. We usually call it the CCD. However, this number, being smaller, is usually downplayed by Fuji.
Fuji likes to emphasise their cameras’ output resolution, that is, the size of the image produced. Which is always larger than the good ol’ CCD/’effective pixel’ resolution. You can imagine that many customers have been taken in by this misrepresentation, thinking they’ve got better bang for the buck with Fuji.
[ If you visit the Fuji camera link provided in the first paragraph of this post, look at the camera reviews further down on the right. At least one reviewer has been fooled by the stats as well, raving about the 6 million pixels and giving it a 91% rating. Shows that not all reviewers do their homework properly. ]
And it turns out that I’m not the only one writing about this:

Fuji uses a “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach and markets only the upsized image resolution. It’s hard, if not impossible, to find physical specs anywhere in their marketing materials.

The article has a technical explanation which I recommend you read, and discusses how far companies can go before getting into legal trouble.
Moreover, in a separate forum discussion:

Fujifilm announced 3 new cameras today, and there was a consistent theme; they claimed an effective resolution of about twice the pixel count of their ccd.

In the words of my late great-grandmother: “Good things are not cheap, and cheap things are not good.”


  1. Yvonne

    Vanessa! Your story of parents + Moulin Rouge is very funny. Will be back in June after graduation, must meet up.

  2. vantan

    Thanks. Yes, looking forward to meeting up with you again.
    If anyone has information to add, or wishes to clarify what I’ve written regarding Fuji, please post your comments here. I shall stand corrected 🙂

  3. Barney (Vanessa Heng's colleague)

    RE Fuji – interesting post
    I have that camera and although I agree that the marketing may be a scam, it’s still a good buy. I’m just bitter that it cost me 800$ and was then knocked down to 600$ about a month later!
    Yeah – it’s not in the top range (1300-1800) but it takes lovely pictures… honest!
    I love my F601!

  4. vantan

    Point noted, Barney 😉 For a 3 megapixel camera, S$600-800 is a very fair price, so don’t feel too bad about it! Reading the reviews, nobody’s complained about the quality of Fuji cameras – but it’s good to bear in mind their dubious marketing tactics, especially if you’re comparing statistics with other cameras from different brands.
    One more thing I didn’t mention in my post, is that megapixels aren’t necessarily the most important factor unless you want to print your photos. For that I’d recommend a 2-3 megapixel camera for 4R prints, minimum. As a ‘designer’ I like to crop out bits of pictures, and occasionally require high resolution images for posters, so I’m going for something more high-end now.
    I guess a film SLR camera is still the best if you’ve got the know-how and time to develop your prints. And moolah.
    As for me, my dad’s taken back the Nikon Coolpix 880 (well technically it was bought using his money so it IS his) so I’m going to buy myself a new camera. However I must admit that its lens is very sharp. Under good lighting he can see every fine hair on each patient’s face.
    Other cameras come with MP3 players (Fuji) and many can take short video clips with sound. Some are really tiny and some let you control all your settings. It all depends on what we’re looking for.

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