I know it’s fairly likely to be replaced by an X40 soon but still wanted to write a review for anyone considering this little gem. I had an X10 for two years before it met a sad end and so upgrading to the X30 came sooner than expected. I’ve had it since January 2014 so I think that’s just about enough time spent with it to be able to put together a review. Before we start though, if you’ve come here to see 100% crops of straight out of camera pictures of books or cats then I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed. I like to use cameras for what their engineers designed them for…..take pictures I enjoy and enjoy the experience of using the camera to take them..I know, weird right? I’m not going to go into crazy detail on specs and all the features of the camera, as other sites like DPReview have that well and truly covered. This is more a personal experience review of someone who uses it to create content for a travel blog, street photography and personal portrait projects. So without further ado and/or incessant waffling, let’s press on.
The Fujifilm X30 has been out for quite a while now but it’s still a great little camera for those looking for something with a bit more oomph than a regular compact but also don’t want to lug a big SLR around with them. I own a Canon 40D and it still works great but 90% of the time when I go out to take photos, I’ll bring the X30.
The X30 is a 12 megapixel compact camera with a 2/3 inch sensor, which is much bigger than your standard compact but a good bit smaller than an APSC sensor. It sports a 28-112mm lens with a maximum aperture of 2.0-2.8. ISO range goes from 100-12,800 but don’t even think about using that setting. It has a tilting screen and something so many high end compacts are missing these days….an EVF. There’s a control ring on the lens which works great for manual focus or switching the aperture if you’re used to lenses with aperture rings.
The handling of the X series was what drew me to the X10 in the first place and that has only improved with the X30. When the X10 came out its main competitor would have been the Sony RX100 and today that’s still the case with the RX100IV. I tried one in the shops and it just…….didn’t have a soul, it was just a camera with buttons and I didn’t get that warm fuzzy feeling I get when using the Fuji and that’s important. A camera is something you’re going to be using every day, so you need to feel good about that and want to pick it up and use it.
The tilting screen is a great addition and makes getting low angle macro shots a breeze. For sure it could be more tiltable for the selfie generation but for me and my uses it’s just fine.
The X10 had an optical viewfinder which was nice and all, except it didn’t display any information so I rarely used it to be honest. With the EVF on the X30 it’s a totally different ball game. It’s fast, bright and with the WYSIWYG display, framing shots and getting your exposure right couldn’t be easier.
The button layout is intuitive for anyone used to the Fuji system with buttons in all the right places enabling you to change your various settings without needing to take your eye away from the EVF. The grip is firm in the hand and I’ve never had a fear of dropping it even without using a strap.
Here’s the section where there’s bound to be disagreements but for my uses, which is primarily creating content for this blog, the performance of this camera is fantastic. Yes it has a sensor size that in this day and age is verging on the small side and as a result you won’t want to go beyond ISO 1600. I usually leave it on AUTO ISO 800 and can happily shoot at shutters speeds as low as 1/8th of second with stabilisation keeping things sharp.
This little camera will blast out photos at ten frames per second which was unheard of beyond pro SLRs just a few years ago. It has continuous focus and tracking modes which I rarely find myself using as I don’t shoot sports or fast action but this camera can certainly cope with that from some tests I’ve done over the last few months.
Dynamic range is down a bit from the previous sensor which had that fancy EXR processing but for a compact camera there’s definitely plenty of wriggle room, especially if you shoot RAW. I’m constantly impressed by the highlight details I can recover as well as boosts to the shadows that retain detail. I shoot mainly for this blog and I don’t care much for 100% pixel peeping, I think that takes away from the whole point of photography, getting out and shooting. I’m more than happy with the performance of this camera and I’m hoping to do some prints soon to see how it performs.
I started a personal project recently on food trucks here in Hobart and began by using my Canon SLR but I’ve since shifted to the X30 as the images it has been producing have been great. I’ve been taking a number of portraits using Cactus V4 triggers combined with a Canon 430EX and Sigma 530DG Super flash and the Fujifilm has performed flawlessly. With the versatile zoom range I can shoot wide environmental shots, and then zoom in to a more classical portrait friendly 50mm or 85mm.
Words can only tell you so much about a camera so let’s just get on with some images shall we? Please find below some of the shots I’ve taken with Frank (I always name my cameras :D) since I picked him up. I enjoy getting the best out of photos so there won’t be any straight out of camera shots here I’m afraid, you can find plenty of those on the other reviews that are out there. I’ve tried to include as wide a collection of different styles and shooting situations as possible to show the versatility of this camera.
Let’s start with some landscapes. It would be nice if the lens was 24mm at the wide end instead of 28mm but it still does a good job and with the smaller sensor, getting plenty of depth of field is easy peasy.
The X30 is also pretty handy as a camera for taking magazine style portraits, which I’ve been doing a fair bit of recently with wireless flash and it has performed superbly. Looking forward to doing some more over the coming months. The shots below were all made utilising an off-camera Canon 430 EX II Speedlight inside a Lumiquest Softbox III to soften the light and triggered using Cactus V6 transceivers. The Cactus V6’s are fantastic as you can control the power of the flash from the camera mounted transceiver unit. No more walking up to each flash to adjust the power as I had to do previously with the V4 units.
52.8mm (Full Frame equivalent) 1/800s, F5, ISO 100
Low light shooting isn’t perhaps the X30’s strongest card but it still performs decently enough given its smaller sensor. I wouldn’t feel tooooo confident going over ISO 1600. ISO 3200 is ok for web display but if you’re a pixel peeper you probably won’t be 100% satisfied.
Macro shooting is a breeze with this camera and you can pretty much touch the lens off your subject at 28mm to get close enough and it will still focus. Most impressive.
I’ve been doing a LOT of street photography with this camera since I first wrote this review so I’ll link to some street photography posts below.
- Hobart Street Photography with the Fujifilm X30
- Sydney Street Photography with the Fujifilm X30
- Melbourne Street Photography with the Fujifilm X30
Photography, if the internet and camera site forums are anything to go by, has lost its way a little bit recently with an obsession with the latest and greatest gear and features often overshadowing the whole point of photography, getting out and taking pictures and enjoying yourself whilst doing so. We obsess over spec sheets and 100% crops of images looking for that holy grail of perfection and ignore the pleasure of photography. Fujifilm have brought that joy and pleasure back for me and the X30 and X10 before that have reignited my love for photography. I love reaching into my bag or pocket to take out the Fuji as it’s such a joy to use. For my purposes it is more than good enough and for many of you on the fence about picking one up, I can assure it will be more than adequate. If you’re looking for a DSLR killer we’re not quite there yet and compact cameras still linger a fair bit behind their bigger brethren.
If however you love taking pictures and really enjoy the craft of photography then the X30 is an excellent choice. It’s a perfect travel companion, one of the best options available if you ask me. It’s a fantastic street photography tool as my previous post on that will hopefully confirm. As I said at the start, I use this camera for 90% of my photography and I’m confident it will churn out great pictures each and every time. If you’re looking for a carry around do it all camera that just feels right to use, then look no further…..at least until the X40 comes out that is 🙂