Fujifilm X-T30 Conclusion
Fuji X-T30 Conclusion
High-end features and performance inside a lightweight, compact body all for a pleasingly low price point? That's the name of the game with the Fuji X-T30.
Much like its predecessor models, the X-T10 and X-T20 did, the latest Fuji X-T30 shares a similar imaging pipeline and indeed numerous features from a higher-end, pricier "companion" model. Whereas the X-T10 and X-T20 matched up underneath the X-T1 and X-T2, respectively, the X-T30 sits under the Fuji X-T3. But rather than just being a stripped-down X-T3 with worse image quality and minimal features, the Fuji X-T30 is very much the opposite. Utilizing the same 26MP sensor, the same quad-core processor, the same powerful AF system and many of the same video specs, the X-T30 somehow, surprisingly, manages to offer the vast majority of what the X-T3 brings to the table in terms of image quality and performance but in a smaller camera body and for a less expensive price.
And when you consider that the X-T3 won our Best Overall Camera award for all of 2018, this certainly seems quite a feat for Fujifilm.
Read on to see how the Fuji X-T30 fared in our laboratory and real-world testing, as well as whether or not the X-T30 is worth the upgrade from an X-T20 or, in fact, if you should you pick this camera over the higher-end X-T3!
Design & Ergonomics
Overall, the X-T30 remains very similar in design and appearance to its X-T20 predecessor, keeping the cool, classic design and compact, lightweight size. The X-T30 is, in a sense, a miniaturized version of the X-T3, as it keeps the same overall aesthetic and retro-SLR shape and control layout with centrally placed EVF. It does lack the robust weather-sealed construction of its higher-end sibling. However, this isn't all that surprising given the class and price point of this model. That said, the build quality is quite good; the camera feels sturdy and very well built while remaining lightweight and compact. The EVF is bright and crisp, and the rear touchscreen works well, though it doesn't offer that clever three-way tilting design like on the X-T3.
Compared to the X-T20, the updated X-T30 offers some tweaks when it comes to its design and control layout. We love the addition of a joystick control, as it makes changing the AF point position fast and easy. However, Fujifilm has done away with the usual 4-way direction control, and instead also relies on this joystick control for menu navigation. For this task, the joystick control works fine -- it does the job -- but we'd prefer to also have the usual 4-way controls for menu work. The typical up-down and left-right navigation with the camera menus feels more precise when done using a 4-way control. However, given the compact size of the camera body, Fujifilm obviously felt there wasn't enough room to comfortably fit both types of controls.
As with most Fuji X-series cameras, the X-T30 doesn't offer the usual "PASM" mode dial and instead divides the primary exposure controls and thus shooting modes into dedicated dials, such as a standalone shutter speed dial and aperture ring on (most) Fujinon lenses. For those unfamiliar with the "Fuji way" of switching between, say, Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority, it can take a little while to become familiar. However, for those more entry-level users or for those times when you simply want a true "point-and-shoot" experience, the X-T30 does offer a physical toggle switch that puts the camera into a fully AUTO mode, so you get the best of both worlds there.
|XF 50-140mm f/2.8 lens at 140mm (210mm equiv.), f/2.8, 1/2000s, ISO 800.|
Image Quality & Performance
As mentioned, the X-T30 features the same imaging pipeline as the higher-end X-T3: the same 26.1-megapixel backside-illuminated APS-C X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor and the same X-Processor 4 imaging processor. With that combo, the X-T30 offers practically identical image quality performance to its high-end sibling camera, and for that, we certainly can't complain. Based on our lab- and field-testing, the Fuji X-T30 offers excellent overall image quality, with fantastic resolving power, very good dynamic range from raw files and impressive high ISO performance for an APS-C camera. However, much like with the X-T3, we did see slightly higher noise levels compared to the predecessor model.
When it comes to performance, the X-T30 is a fast and nimble camera. Overall, the X-T30 inherits many of the same performance specs of the X-T3, including the updated 425-point hybrid autofocus system with AF coverage extending across the entire frame. The X-T30 offers fast AF speeds, with very quick single-shot AF speeds as well as excellent low-light AF capabilities. Continuous AF and subject-tracking performance are also very good, making this compact mirrorless camera a great choice for wildlife and action-centric photography.
|XF 16mm f/2.8 lens at 16mm (24mm equiv.), f/11, 1s, ISO 160.|
The X-T30, however, isn't identical to the X-T3 when it comes to performance features. The X-T30 offers slightly slower burst shooting with its mechanical shutter, at up to just 8 fps, whereas the X-T3 offers up to 11 fps. Both cameras, however, are capable of up to 20 fps with the electronic shutter as well as a super-fast 30 fps burst with a 1.25x crop. Buffer depths also differ, with the X-T30 capable of shooting about 79 JPEGs and about 18 shots for RAW or RAW+JPEG mode when using the fastest 8 fps mechanical shutter mode. The X-T3, meanwhile, had more than double the buffer capacity with its faster 11 fps mechanical-shutter burst mode. Buffer clearing times were reasonably quick and were also similar to the X-T3.
Lastly, one point of contention: No in-body image stabilization. Granted, this missing feature has been consistent among most of Fuji's X-series cameras, with the sole exception being the X-H1. Nevertheless, more and more cameras have started offering IBIS, and while Fuji has a lot of optically-stabilized lenses, we'd love to have had IBIS in the X-T30 (and the X-T3 for that matter, too).
While the X-T30 is more of a stills-oriented camera, this compact mirrorless camera offers a fairly healthy array of video features, including 4K at both UHD and Cinema 4K resolutions as well as 10-bit 4:2:2 HDMI output. Being a compact camera, it's understandable (yet still disappointing) that it lacks a headphone jack. However, the camera has a USB-C port, which does support USB-C headphones. The X-T30 offers a microphone input, which is great, but the decision to use a 2.5mm jack instead of the more industry-standard 3.5mm mic jack is an odd choice and reduces your choice of microphones or forces using an adapter.
Video quality, too, looks quite nice, with superb detail and excellent colors, including the ability to utilize Fuji's characteristic Film Simulations. It's a big upgrade from earlier-generation X-Trans cameras, which offered rather underwhelming video features and lackluster video quality.
|XF 50-140mm f/2.8 lens at 140mm (210mm equiv.), f/2.8, 1/2000s, ISO 1250.|
All in all, the Fuji X-T30 is an impressive camera, not only for its image quality and performance but also its price point. For the most part, it truly does feel like a smaller, more affordable alternative to the rugged X-T3. Packing in the same X-Trans sensor, image processor and autofocus system as the X-T3, as well as similar high-res video shooting capabilities, the X-T30 is surprisingly robust in capabilities and features. Image quality is excellent, and autofocus performance is fast, accurate and responsive. It's amazing just how similar it is to the higher-end X-T3 and yet Fuji's priced the camera at just $800 body-only. If you're looking to acquire a compact, lightweight, easy-to-carry mirrorless cameras and don't need or want the extra bulk or weather-sealing of the X-T3, the X-T30 is a fantastic choice for a high-quality, high-performance mirrorless camera that'll also save you a nice chunk of change.
All told, the Fuji X-T30 certainly gets the nod as a Dave's Pick in our book.
Pros & Cons
- Same great image quality as the X-T3
- Excellent high ISO performance for an APS-C camera
- Very good dynamic range from raw files
- Excellent hue accuracy
- Useful film simulation modes
- Separate highlight and shadow contrast control
- D-Range features work well to preserve highlights in JPEGs
- Improved hybrid autofocus system with full image area coverage
- Able to autofocus in extremely low light
- Very fast AF-S speeds
- Very good AF-C performance
- Low shutter lag
- Quick shot to shot times
- Fast 8 fps full-res burst mode with mechanical shutter, 20 fps with e-shutter
- 30 fps bursts in 1.25x crop mode
- Decent buffer depths and clearing times
- Handy joystick control
- Good build quality
- Very good coverage accuracy from EVF and LCD monitor
- Full-width DCI & UHD 4K video up to 30p
- Full HD video up to 120p
- 10-bit 4:2:2 HDMI output
- External mic jack (see Con)
- USB-C (USB 3.1 Gen 1) port
- Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
- Decent battery life for a mirrorless camera
- Internal USB charging is supported
- Built-in flash (though quite weak)
- Very good value
- Slightly higher noise levels than predecessor
- Auto and incandescent white balance struggle in tungsten lighting
- Precise manual focus is tricky with fly-by-wire focusing, plus focus can change unexpectedly when adjusting other unrelated settings
- Shutter pre-press penalty
- No IBIS
- Single card slot
- No dedicated headphone jack
- Mic jack uses less-common 2.5mm size
- No weather sealing