Fujifilm X30 Conclusion

Pros: Cons:
  • Very good optical performance from the fast f/2-2.8 lens
  • Very close Super Macro mode
  • Excellent image quality for its class
  • Very low shutter lag
  • Quick autofocus
  • Able to autofocus in very low light
  • Fast burst modes
  • Good flash performance
  • Separate highlight and shadow compensation settings
  • Above average battery life
  • Comfortable to hold with excellent rubbery grip material
  • Durable-feeling metal construction
  • 2,360K-dot OLED EVF is a big improvement
  • Lots of customization (Rear Fn, movie record and 4-way buttons can all be programmed)
  • Tilting LCD screen is very convenient, larger and higher res than the X20
  • Built-in pop-up flash
  • Hot-shoe
  • 2.5mm microphone jack instead of USB-based proprietary adapter
  • Top shutter speed is only 1/1000s when wide open
  • No built-in ND filter
  • Buffer depths could be deeper
  • Auto and Incandescent WB too warm indoors
  • No RAW files past ISO 3200
  • Standard NR processing a bit heavy-handed
  • EVF can be difficult to use in low-light
  • No physical feedback from lens control ring
  • 28mm-equivalent wide angle isn't as wide as some competing models
  • Separate lens cap
  • Larger than a pocketable compact camera

Under the hood, the Fuji X30 compact camera shares same imaging pipeline as its predecessor, the X20 -- the same 12MP 2/3-inch X-Trans CMOS II sensor, the same, fast 28-112mm-eq. f/2-2.8 zoom lens, and the same EXR Processor II. What has changed, however, are some new external styling tweaks, updated controls, a larger, higher-res LCD screen that now tilts, and an EVF as well as built-in Wi-Fi networking capabilities and improved battery life.

The X30 takes on a bit more modern, more angular styling cues compared to the more X100-like design of its predecessor. More importantly, however, is the switch to an electronic viewfinder from the flawed optical viewfinder of the X20. The old model's OVF suffered from parallax issues and the fact that the lens blocked some of the view at wide-angle, but the new 0.39-inch, 2360K-dot OLED EVF in the X30 solves all that. The experience using the EVF was very positive for the most part, thanks to its bright, clear OLED display. The viewfinder feels large with crisp, easy to read text. We did experience a slight stutter or delay if you focus and re-focus quickly while composing shots. Also, in very dim lighting, the EVF's display can become quite noisy and grainy. Overall, though, the EVF is a much-welcomed change.

There are other usability improvements as well, including a well-built tilting LCD screen that is both larger and higher resolution than the X20's, at 3" vs 2.8" and 920K dots vs 480K dots, respectively. The X30 also adds an second customizable control ring on the lens barrel. Functioning similar to a sub-control dial in other cameras, this ring can be customized to adjust a number of different settings. It's a very handy feature, and one that's right there at your fingertips, though we wish it provided some tactile feedback when rotated as opposed to just an electronic click noise.

Performance-wise, the Fuji X30 is a highly capable little camera. Like the earlier X20, the X30 produces very good, high quality images for its type. While the sensor isn't the largest in this class of camera, it's still quite big compared to traditional "point-and-shoot" cameras. Low ISO images are highly detailed for the most part, and high ISO performance is great for this class of camera. If you shoot in RAW mode, the camera limits you to a maximum ISO of 3200, which can be frustrating, but it's probably a smart idea given the sensor size.

The X30 is also capable of recording 1080p video at up to 60 frames per second. The real-world video we saw from this camera looks quite good with lots of fairly crisp detail. Unlike what we've seen in videos from other X-trans sensor cameras, with various demosaicing issues and moiré artifacts, we did not come across this with our X30 videos. It is something to keep in mind as a potential issue, though.

The optical performance of the fast, fixed 4x optical zoom is also very good, with excellent sharpness and only very minor corner softness when wide-open. In-camera JPEG processing takes care of pesky things like distortion and chromatic aberration, but these issues are apparent when shooting RAW (though nothing a little post processing won't fix). And while we don't test for this in the lab, we did notice some issues with lens flare in our real-world shots. We noticed this issue in earlier X-series compacts, too, and more so than with some competing models, so it's something to be aware of when you're out shooting with this camera. Lastly, many competing compact cameras offer a wider, 24mm-equivalent focal length, so the 28mm-eq. wide-end on the X30 could be limiting to some.

In terms of speed, the X30 is nice and peppy. Thanks to its on-sensor hybrid phase-detect AF system, autofocus performance was generally quick, accurate, and great in low-light, though it can slow down noticeably with low-contrast subjects. Shutter lag was also very minimal, and burst mode was quick, though we would have liked a deeper buffer.

Overall, the X30 is an excellent camera. Fujifilm knew what to fix and what to leave well enough alone from their previous X20 model. The move to an EVF was a big improvement and the tweaks to the external controls and tilting LCD are welcomed changes. All in all, with superb image quality for its class and great performance, the Fuji X30 is a fantastic premium compact camera with a more unique twist to its styling and controls than its competitors. Combining these factors with a street price that's now dropped to around US$500, the Fujifilm X30 is an easy Dave's Pick and a great choice for those looking for a relatively small, capable secondary camera to their big rig, or for those simply looking for high performance "compact" camera that looks and feels is bit more unique than the typical point-and-shoot.

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