My Fujifilm X30 review and my real-world write up and sample images.
I used the X30 a while ago and enjoyed it so much that I knew I would like the X30 as soon as it came out. It is a great pocketable size X-Series with good enough quality to be a decent upgrade from your mobile phone to make it worthwhile carrying around, and good enough that you don’t regret carrying your larger X-Series with you for day-to-day stuff.
Fujifilm UK was kind enough to loan me one to try out. It’s taken me a while to get this review together as I’ve just been so busy with other stuff. However, with price reductions in the X30 since launch I think it makes it a much more desirable camera now than at launch when you consider price vs performance.
I had the camera for a few weeks and used it in a lot of different situations. In this Fujifilm X30 review I’ve included a lot of photos in this write-up so you can see for yourself how it performs – much better that I show you and can you look with your own eyes than me try to tell you! Click on any of the images to see larger versions.
The X30 differs from the X10 and X20 in that it has an EVF instead of an OVF. The be honest as nice as it was to have a viewfinder on the X20, because it was so small I never really used it, so it was almost pointless it being there. The EVF transforms the X*0 series and really makes this camera a whole different beast. Suddenly the viewfinder is useful and I’m a huge fan of the EVF, which shows accurate exposure and 100% accurate framing, allowing you to know that as soon as you press the shutter button, exactly what you see through the viewfinder is what will be recorded by the camera.
I’m not going to go into the ins and outs of using every feature on the camera. This is more about using it day-to-day in a normal real-world way as you are probably likely to, family days, a bit of creative stuff, landscapes, macro etc. The sort of thing that I think most people would buy this camera to do.
The Fujifilm X30 is available in black or silver, I personally prefer the black discrete version, but I can see the appeal of the perhaps more retro looking silver version.
The X30 has a 2/3rd inch X-Trans CMOS II sensor with the anti-ailiasing filter removed – the same design that is found in its larger siblings, the X-E2 and X-T1. This gives better resolution and improved image quality over the X10, but essentially remains the same as the X20.
The AF is a hybrid design, with on-sensor phase detection which switches automatically between phase and contrast detection depending on the circumstances. Contrast detection is more accurate than phase detection and tends to perform better in low light situations. Auto-focus is quick and accurate.
What can you shoot with it?
Probably almost anything you want as an every-day camera! It’s great for family days out where it won’t get in the way of the fun.
Macro / Close-up?
This is one of my favourite uses for the X30. It absolutely excels at close-range shooting because the smaller sensor allows the lens to focus closer with less compromise than on cameras with larger sensors. The lens and sensor obviously work particularly well together in this way to produce some stunning images with fabulous detail. If you’re into shooting close up macro images then the X30 has got to be a serious contender. You just have to click on some of these to see them in higher resolution!
Foodies who like to take photos of their meal will love this camera!
Some fun filters! Whether you agree with them or not, in-camera filters are here to stay!
The X30 has its own selection. They aren’t probably something I’d choose to use in-camera on a regular basis, but they can be fun to play with!
Carried over from other X-Series cameras is the multiple exposure mode. This allows you to shoot two images over the same frame, something photographers used to do in the film days by simply not winding the film to the next frame between shots. If you’re particularly creative you can make some nice effects. It works well with the first image showing through as a transparent layer, making it much easier to do than in film days!
What do I like about the X30?
The EVF!! Putting an EVF into this range of cameras has transformed them for me. The X10 and X20 were nice with the OVF, especially since so few cameras of that size had a viewfinder at all, but the OVF was always small and limited for me. The EVF is bright, shows you exactly what you’re going to get when you press the button and for myself I find it far more useful than an OVF.
Size. It’s a great size to carry around and very in-obtrusive on the street. If you’re a street photographer wanting a small discrete camera, this could very well be the one for you. Although with the lens sticking out up front means it isn’t pocketable in a pair of trousers, but I was able to carry it comfortably in a jacket pocket – even with a 3rd party hood attached.
Large sensor. The larger sensor (for a compact camera) really does allow you to get a shallower depth of field and isolate subjects rather than having the entire frame sharply in focus. This makes your photographs stand out from the typical point-and-shoot and will add a new dimension to your images. Use it creatively to come up with some great professional looking shots.
The lens. Wide aperture at f/2.0 at the wide-angle end and still staying wide at f/2.8 at the long end many other compacts start with a large aperture at the wide-angle, but as you zoom in they get smaller very quickly, often ending up at f/5.6 or worse at the long end. The lens has a good zoom range, going from a wide 28mm to a nice 112mm and still f/2.8 even fully zoomed in. That helps a great deal in low light situations where you will not have to increase the ISO so much, allowing for better quality images.
28-112 doesn’t sound like a huge range, but below shows the range from wide-angle to fully zoomed in, and as you can see it gives quite a bit of flexibility.
The optical image stabilisation works well and gives you the ability to shoot hand-held at far lower shutter speeds than you would expect. I can typically handhold these down to 1/4s and get sharp results, although not necessarily when fully zoomed in!
The lens retracts more into the body when you turn it to the off position.
The zoom function is totally manual. It’s absolutely great for photographers as you can get it exactly where you want quickly rather than wait for the power zoom to move through the range, and you don’t have to predict where it might stop! The only problem is for videographers who prefer a power zoom as manually zooming can difficult to do smoothly.
Fast AF. Fujifilm have steadily improved the AF on the X-Series range, and the X30 really is very quick. It just makes taking photos quick and easy, which is exactly what you want in a camera like this. Even in relatively dim conditions, the AF is quite snappy and accurate.
The X30 has face-detection AF, which is something I personally always like to see in a camera, I hope they will bring it to the professional range in the next update. The face-detection routine isn’t perfect as it does seem to see faces that aren’t there sometimes! It’s great for tracking kids as they move across the frame though instead of making you focus and recompose on a moving subject.
To assist in manual focussing if you use it, the X30 includes focus peaking to highlight edges that are in focus. I’d like to see different options of colours as the white can sometimes be hard to see in certain circumstances. Although in general use I do actually prefer white, Sony offer red and yellow options, which do help out at times.
Hot shoe. A lot of the smaller premium camera don’t include a hot shoe. This not only allows you to attach a much better flash than the built-in one, but accessories such as microphones and maybe even a video light if you want to use it for video.
Built-in flash – I’m not a huge fan of on-camera flash, but Fuji seem to have worked out a way of making it work very well indeed, it doesn’t dazzle your subject and make them look washed out, it seems to get the balance just right.
Film Simulation Modes – I love the Fujifilm film simulation modes on my other X-Series cameras, and it’s great to see them on the X30 too. Astia is my all-round favourite, and is particularly good for portraits giving nice smooth skin tones. With the great JPEGs coming out of the camera, there really is very little need to shoot in RAW unless you absolutely want to when you know you’ll be doing a lot of manipulation on the image.
High ISO performance. The X30 produces useable images up to ISO1600.
The image below was taken in at ISO 1600, it is a JPEG from the camera with NR set to O and has had no noise reduction applied to it beyond that. ISO 1600 might not sound high to professionals these days using pro cameras, but from a compact it is impressive.
By ISO 2500 (below) it’s getting to the point where you’d only really want to use it if you have to for web sized images.
The colours! This is Fuji’s strong point, and the X30 like those before it, is fabulous. Colours straight out of the camera’s JPEG files are superb.
The X30 has surprisingly good dynamic range, and even JPEGs have some room for latitude in post processing.
The highlights have some considerable amount of detail in them, and that can be recovered quite easily, but the same can’t be said for shadows, so you are best to over-expose than under-expose with the X30 if you plan on editing the image afterwards. Details can easily be lost in the dark shadows and little can be recovered in the JPEGs if you under-expose. I always find this odd because on the larger X-Trans sensor cameras, the opposite is true.
If you’re into documentary style shoots the X30 will give you all you need. Quick and discrete to not disturb your subject and flexible enough to get the shot you want.
The X30 has several panorama modest should you wish to use those. I personally prefer to shoot the individual images myself and then stitch them in Lightroom. The shot below is an in-camera panorama.
The X30 does do video, and it does it rather well. Fuji don’t really push their cameras as being ones that are for serious video enthusiasts, but a few more options would have be nice. Personally I’d rather have a great stills camera and then get something else for video than have something that may be compromised.
What don’t I like?
With the smaller body than the other X-Series cameras, I can find myself accidentally pressing buttons by mistake, in particular the WiFi Fn button at the bottom.
I’m still not too keen on the zoom ring on/off switch. It is a really nice idea and if I was using the camera all the time I’d probably get used to it. I keep looking for the switch around the shutter button like my other Fujis! There is a definite hard stop position on the zoom before you have to push it past to turn it off, so in that respect it works well as it means you don’t accidentally turn it off when zooming out.
Do I buy the new X30 or the old X100?
They are both around the same price so it’s a valid question. If you want something really special… for me it’s got to be the X100. But the X100 is really a different type of camera. You have to learn to live with its limitations and spend time mastering it to get the best out of it. The X30 is a fantastic all-rounder that you could use anywhere and everywhere, will frustrate you a hell of a lot less than an X100 and makes for a great travel camera allowing you the flexibility to zoom.
It won’t stand up in terms of pure image quality to an X100 though if that is what you are after.
The X30 is the perfect ‘family day out’ camera for someone wanting great quality images. You won’t notice carrying it around and it will shoot pretty much anything you throw at it without getting in the way. The family won’t get frustrated with you as you fight with the camera to get the shot you want – in that sense it truly is a point-and-shoot as it pretty much does exactly that!
The X30 is far more than a normal point and shoot camera. It has full manual controls and would make a good step-up camera for someone wanting more advanced control and better image quality than they are used to from a normal point-and-shoot. It would also serve well as a second camera to the mirrorless or dSLR shooter who wants a camera to carry around daily without the weight and bulk, but still with great image quality.
For me the X30 was just a little overpriced at £500 when launched, but now that it has been out a while, you can get them at under £300 and at that price it is significantly better value and should definitely be on your shortlist.
If you want to see more of my images shot with the X30, have a look at my fujifilm X30 review sample image gallery..
You can see more on the Fujifilm X30 and technical details at the Fujifilm website here.