Fujifilm F30 Review
Fujifilm FinePix F30 Design
Though the F30 isn't the thinnest camera on the market in this compact category, its dimensions of 3.6 x 2.2 x 1.1 inches (92.7 x 56.7 x 27.8mm) make it small enough to slide into a bag or coat pocket and take along anywhere. While from a distance the camera might look like a rather ordinary silver box, on closer inspection you'll notice the F30's luxurious curved finish, with the smooth, light silver of the camera's back metal plate wrapping around the right and locking into the darker silver faceplate. With an xD-Picture Card and its rather large-size proprietary rechargeable lithium ion battery, the camera weighs a substantial (but not quite hefty) 6.77 ounces (192 grams).
The F30's metal front panel is nearly flat with the lens retracted, except for the small surfboard-like metal fingergrip, which extends slightly out from the middle right of the camera. Turning the F30 on extends the lens about an inch from the camera body. A shutter-like lens cover protects the front of the lens when closed, and quickly retracts when the camera is powered on. Near the top of the front panel are the flash, self-timer lamp, and an AF assist lamp. Two small holes below the lens barrel mark the location of the camera's microphone.
The right side of the camera (as viewed from the rear) holds only the recessed eyelet for the wrist strap.
The opposite side of the Fujifilm F30 is smooth and featureless, except for a small rubber flap covering the A/V Out, USB, and DC IN 5V power input sockets.
On the F30's top panel are the Power button, Mode dial, and Shutter button.
The remaining camera controls are on the rear panel, sharing space with the LCD monitor. Note that the Fuji F30 forgoes any form of optical viewfinder, in favor of a larger 2.5" LCD display, which dominates the left side of the camera's rear. The LCD does seem fairly easy to view in most lighting conditions (it's even surprisingly usable in full sunlight), so many users likely won't even miss the optical viewfinder. The zoom rocker is at the top right of the rear panel, and a small indentation in the center of the rocker and series of rubber dots below it that provide a reasonable thumb rest to counter the front fingergrip. The Playback and Photo Mode buttons (the latter marked with a stylized 'F' character in Fujifilm's FinePix logo font) are side by side, centered vertically on the camera's right rear. The Playback button doubles as a second power switch, allowing you to turn the camera on directly in Playback mode (without the lens extending) if you hold the Playback button in briefly.
A Four-way arrow pad next to the lower right corner controls macro and flash modes, the self-timer, the LCD brightness and the delete functions, and also provides navigation controls for the LCD menu system. In record mode, the left arrow doubles as a Macro button, and the right arrow cycles through Flash settings, while the up arrow boosts the LCD's backlight for better visibility, and the down arrow cycles through the camera's self-timer modes. Located in the center of the Four-way arrow pad, a Menu/OK button calls up the camera's Record or Playback-mode menu system, and acknowledges changes to menu items. Directly to the lower left of the Arrow pad is the Back/Display button, for backing out of menu screens, or cycling through the available LCD display modes. In Record mode, the display modes options are text overlay, image only, framing guidelines with text, or post-shot assist (which shows the last three images captured since switching the camera to record mode alongside a live view, to assist in framing shots with similar composition). To the lower right of the Four-way arrow pad, is an exposure compensation button that can only be operated in the Manual and Aperture/Shutter Priority modes.
The Fujifilm F30's bottom panel is flat, with the threaded plastic tripod socket on the left side. The shared xD-Picture Card and battery compartment is to the right of the tripod mount (as viewed from the rear), with a hinged door that slides over before opening. The door doesn't lock, but latches closed fairly firmly.
Between the tripod socket and shared xD-Picture Card and battery compartment door, nine holes in a three by three grid indicate the location of the speaker.
Fujifilm FinePix F30 External Controls
Mode Dial: In the middle of the camera's top panel, this dial controls the camera's exposure modes, offering the following options:
- Auto: Places the camera in control of all basic exposure settings. The user has control over zoom, macro mode, high-speed shooting, continuous shooting, color mode, and some flash settings.
- Manual: This mode provides the user with increased control, including ISO control, exposure compensation, metering mode, white balance, and AF mode, as well as all flash modes.
- Aperture Priority AE/Shutter Priority AE: This mode lets the user manually adjust either the Aperture setting or the Shutter Speed.
- Movie: Records moving images with sound, at either 640 x 480 or 320 x 240 pixels, both at 30fps.
- Picture Stabilization/Anti-blur: This mode automatically combines a higher ISO sensitivity with a faster shutter speed to reduce blur.
- Scene position: This mode gives the user some degree of control over the camera's setup, without the need to understand what the settings mean. Each scene mode biases the camera for a particular common photographic situation, and different scene modes allow a different subset of the camera's total manual controls to be accessed. The five available scene modes, selected through the menu system, are as follows:
- Natural Light: Locks ISO sensitivity to Auto, metering to Multi, white balance to Auto, and AF mode to Center. Exposure compensation is not available. The flash is disabled, as is Continuous mode.
- Natural Light & Flash: Takes two shots in succession, the first without flash but with a high ISO value, and the second with flash
- Portrait: Locks metering to Multi, white balance to Auto, and AF mode to Center. Exposure compensation is not available, nor is Continuous mode.
- Landscape: Locks metering to Multi, white balance to Auto, and AF mode to Center. Exposure compensation is not available. The flash is disabled, as is Continuous mode.
- Sports: Locks metering to Multi, white balance to Auto, and AF mode to Center. Exposure compensation is not available. Only the Auto and Forced flash modes are available. The camera gives priority to faster shutter speeds to freeze the action.
- Night: Locks ISO sensitivity to Auto, metering to Multi, white balance to Auto, and AF mode to Center. Exposure compensation is not available, and shutter speeds as long as three seconds are favored (so a tripod is recommended). If the long exposure mode setting is enabled in the Setup menu, the aperture is locked at wide open, and shutter speeds range from three to 15 seconds, which must be set manually using the four-way controller. Only the slow sync and red-eye reduction slow-sync flash modes are available, unless the camera is in long exposure mode, in which case only the forced and red-eye reduction flash modes are available.
- Fireworks: Uses a slow shutter to take more vivid photos of fireworks.
- Sunset: Makes colors more vivid when shooting a sunset.
- Snow: Helps prevent darkening images when shooting a snowy scene when the whole screen appears white.
- Beach: Helps prevent darkening images when shooting at the beach with strong sunlight.
- Underwater: Use this mode when shooting with a waterproof case. Helps capture vivid ocean blues.
- Museum: Flash and shutter sound are disabled in this mode to provide less disruptive shooting in places such as museums and churches.
- Party: Helps capture natural ambient lighting in low-light indoor conditions such as at a wedding or a party.
- Flower Close-Up: For capturing Macro shots of foliage and flowers. Improves detail and makes colors more vivid.
- Text: Use this mode to shoot documents and white board. Effective for taking clearer shots of letters.
Shutter Button: Located on the right of the top panel this button sets focus and exposure when halfway pressed, and fires the shutter when fully pressed. When in Playback mode, half-pressing this button quickly returns the camera to Record mode.
Power Button: Located to the left of the Mode dial, this button turns the camera on and off.
Zoom Rocker: In the top right corner of the rear panel, this rocker controls the 3x optical and the up-to-6.2x digital zoom. In Playback mode, these buttons let you zoom in on captured images, for closer viewing.
Playback Button: Below the zoom rocker and immediately to the right of the LCD display, this button that toggles the camera between Record and Playback mode. If the camera is powered off, holding this button in briefly will power the camera on in Playback mode, so the lens doesn't extend.
Photo Mode Button: Marked with an F and located to the right of the Playback button, this button displays the Function menu when pressed in Record or Playback modes. The following options are available:
- ISO: When in Manual, A/S, or Night + Long Exposure modes, adjusts the camera's sensitivity to Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, or Auto (400) and Auto (1600) equivalents. The latter two allow automatic control of the ISO, yet limit the maximum setting to either 400 or 1600.
- Quality: Sets the image resolution to 6M F(fine) (2,848 x 2,136 pixels), 6M N(normal) (2,848 x 2,136 pixels), 3:2 (3,024 x 2,016 pixels), 3M (2,048 x 1,536 pixels), 2M (1,600 x 1,200 pixels), or 0.3M (640 x 480 pixels) for still images. In Movie mode, resolution options are 640 x 480 or 320 x 240 pixels.
- Color: Adjusts the color to Black and White, Chrome (high saturation and contrast), or Standard.
- DPOF: Accesses the camera's DPOF menu, where you can browse images and set the number of copies of each image to be printed.
Four-way Arrow Pad and Menu/OK Button: Directly below the Playback and Photo Mode buttons, this large rocker button features four arrows for navigating through menu screens and captured images. The central Menu / OK button activates the menu system in any camera mode, and subsequently confirms menu selections. In playback mode, if a movie is playing the Menu button calls up the Playback volume menu. In Record mode, the left arrow turns Macro mode on or off, while the right arrow controls the flash mode. The up arrow brightens the LCD display's backlight, and the down arrow cycles through the self-timer options. In Playback mode, the right and left arrow keys scroll through captured images. All four arrow keys pan the view of an enlarged image.
Display/Back Button: Directly below the Four-way controller near the lower right corner of the LCD monitor, this button controls the LCD display in Record mode. Pressing the button cycles through the available display modes. In Record mode, these are text overlay, image only, framing guidelines with text, or post-shot assist (which shows the last three images captured since switching the camera to record mode alongside a live view, to assist in framing shots with similar composition). In Playback mode, they are text overlay, image only, nine-image index, or 11-image index by date. When menus are activated, the Display / Back button backs out of menu screens without making any changes.
Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.