Fujifilm FinePix HS30 EXR


    Photo Review 8.5
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    Fujifilm FinePix HS30 EXR

      Full review

      Replacing the HS20 model at the top of Fujifilm's bridge camera line-up, the FinePix HS30 EXR is more of an incremental upgrade than a brand new model. Designed for photographers who want shooting versatility (including raw file support) without the hassle of lens-changing, the new camera retains most of the features that made its predecessor popular as a cheaper alternative to the X-S1.

      The body design has barely changed (as shown in the illustrations below) and the same 30x zoom lens is provided, along with a 1/2-inch (6.4 x 4.8 mm)  EXR CMOS sensor with the same 16-megapixel resolution. This sensor is smaller than the sensor in the X-S1, which partly accounts for the price differences between the two cameras. (The differences between the HS30 and HS20 prices are due to market factors.) Click HERE to read our review of the FinePix HS20 EXR (INSERT LINK).

      Front view of the Fujifilm FinePix HS30 EXR with the lens in the wide position. (Source: Fujifilm.)

       

       Rear view of the Fujifilm FinePix HS30 EXR. (Source: Fujifilm.)
       
       

      The top panel of the HS30 EXR with the lens at its widest  position. (Source: Fujifilm.)

      What's New?
      The most conspicuous improvement in the HS30 comes with the electronic viewfinder (EVF), which has been given a substantial boost in resolution and covers a wider viewing angle than the HS20's. The LCD monitor has also been improved with the addition of an outdoor mode that improves viewing in sunlight. It is enabled via the Monitor Sunlight Mode option in the set-up menu and switched on by holding down the EVF/LCD button.

      Interestingly, the body is now taller to improve the user's grip and make it easier to reach the zoom ring and adjust it with high precision. That said, the knuckle of your left thumb still tends to knock against the flash housing towards the tele end of the zoom range, though it's not as cramping as the HS20.

      Switching to a rechargeable lithium-ion battery has provided better power management that almost doubles the number of shots you can take without swapping batteries. Fujifilm claims the new camera's start-up time has been roughly halved (compared with the HS20) and the writing time after continuous shooting has been reduced to roughly two seconds, compared with around 20 seconds on the HS20.

      Aside from these and a few other relatively minor changes outlined in the Controls section and table below, the HS30 EXR improves on some of the X-S1's features, thereby providing better value for money than its predecessor. The table below compares key features of the HS30, HS20 and X-S1.

      HS30EXR

      HS20EXR

      X-S1

      Sensor size

      6.4 x 4.8 mm

      8.8 x 6.6 mm

      Effective resolution

      16 megapixels

      12 megapixels

      Lens

      Fujinon 4.2-126mm f/2.8-5.6 zoom

      Fujinon 6.1-158.6mm f/2.8-5.6

      Zoom ratio

      30x optical, up to 2x digital

      26x optical, 2x digital

      Sequence shooting (Max/Large/Fine JPEG)

      Approx. 8 fps for 16 frames

      Approx. 8 fps for 8 frames

      Approx. 7 fps for 8 frames

      Flash range, ISO 800 (auto)

      30 cm - 7.1 m

      30 cm - 8.0 m

      Monitor

      Tilting 3-inch TFT colour LCD with approx. 460,000 dots, approx. 100% coverage

      Monitor sunlight mode

      Yes

      No

      Yes

      Electronic viewfinder

      0.26-inch, 920,000 dots; 22° viewing angle

      0.20-inch, 200,000 dots; 16° viewing angle

      0.47-inch, approx. 1440,000 dots; 26° viewing angle

      Battery

      Li-ion rechargeable (600 shots/charge)

      4x AA batteries (350 shots per set)

      Li-ion rechargeable (460 shots/charge)

      Digital zoom

      2x

      No

      2x

      Minimum focus in Macro/Super Macro mode

      7 cm (wide) 2 m (tele) /1 cm

      10 cm (wide) 2 m (tele) /1 cm

      7 cm (wide) 2 m (tele) /1 cm

      Electronic level

      Yes

      No

      Yes

      Manual Focus for movie recording

      Yes

      No

      Yes

      Customisable Function (Fn) key

      Yes

      No

      Yes

      Country of manufacture

      China

      Japan

      Dimensions (wxhxd):

      130.6 x 96.6 x 126.0 mm 

      130.6 x 90.7 x 126.0 mm

      135 x 107 x 149 mm

      Weight (without battery and card)

      637 grams

      636 grams

      905 grams

      RRP

      $599

      $699

      $899

      Controls
      Unchanged from its predecessor, the HS30 is liberally strewn with button and dial controls. Its mode dial carries the same settings as the HS20, with three 'auto' modes (Auto, EXR and Advanced), P/A/S/M modes, a programmable Custom mode that is usable with the P/A/S/M and EXR modesand two identical banks of Scene Position pre-sets.

      The EXR mode adds scene recognition to the standard auto-everything mode. Ten basic scenes are programmed into the camera's image processor and settings derived from any of the three other EXR modes can be used for fine-tuning.

      The Advanced mode isn't there for sophisticated users; instead it applies pre-set adjustments to achieve satisfactory results in difficult conditions.The Pro Low-light mode records a series of four shots at different exposure/ISO levels and combines them to create an image with reduced noise. The Pro Focus mode produces blurred backgrounds in portrait shots where small-sensor cameras traditionally battle.

      A new Multiple Exposure mode enables users to combine two exposures in a single shot. The 3D mode also records two shots, this time from different angles. Users can choose whether to take the left or right side of the stereo pair first. This shot is shown superimposed on the viewing screen as a guide for composing the second shot.

      The final shooting mode is the Panorama mode,which was provided on the HS20 and resembles similar modes in Panasonic and Sony cameras. This setting delivered similar results to those we obtained with the F550 EXR. (INSERT LINK)

      The AF modes are also the same as in the HS20, with single and continuous modes plus centre, multi, area and tracking area selections. 'Intelligent' face detection is also provided, with the ability to set focus and exposure automatically for individual and group portraits. Face recognition is also available, enabling users to store information on portrait subjects and prioritise them for 'intelligent' face detection. Data for up to eight faces can be stored.

      Manual focusing is supported via a focus ring on the lens. It's a bit close to the camera body for comfort but twisting it enlarges the centre of the frame and overlays a bar showing you how close you are to correct focus. While the camera indicates when subjects are in-focus, the shutter doesn't lock when they're not so shots can be missed, particularly with long focal lengths and in the macro modes.
       Buttons for accessing the ISO, AE, AFand WB are ranged along the left side of the monitor and there are EV+/- adjustment and drive buttons behind the shutter release on the top panel. A conventional arrow pad sits right of the monitor, with buttons for EVF/LCD switching, movie recording, AE/AF lock, Display/Back and Playback dotted around it.

      The upper button on the arrow pad, which on the HS20 is used to switch into RAW mode, has become a programmable Function (Fn) button on the HS30. It still serves as a delete button in playback mode but users can now choose any of the following options by holding this button down: image size, image quality, raw, dynamic range, film simulation, face detection, face recognition, intelligent digital zoom, movie mode or electronic level display.

      The Command dial on the top panel is used for many adjustments. In aperture- and Shutter-priority modes, it selects the f/number of shutter speed. In manual mode, you toggle between aperture and shutter speed settings by pressing the EV+/- button. It's a bit clumsy but you can get used to it.

      Manual focusing is now possible in movie mode and the Face Detection and Tracking AF, which were separate in the HS20, have been combined into a Face Tracking Auto Focus mode. Otherwise, video capabilities remain unchanged with the top resolution being Full HD 1080p at 30 frames/second.

      Sensor and Image Processing
       There's nothing tangible to confirm the claimed improvements to the HS30 EXR's EXR CMOS sensor so we have to take Fujifilm's word for them. On the surface, the design and structure of the sensors in the HS30 and HS20 appear very similar. Both are BSI (Back Side Illuminated) and both feature angled arrays of photodiodes with overlaid colour filters, as shown in the diagram below.
      The diagram above compares the photosite array in the HS30's EXR CMOS sensor with a conventional CMOS sensor array. 1. Colour Filter (EXR pixel array), 2. Photodiode, 3. High Speed Transfer Circuit, 4. Light, A. Conventional pixel array, B. EXR pixel array, C. Conventional CMOS sensor, D. BSI CMOS sensor, I. EXR pixel array, II. High sensitivity CMOS sensor. (Source: Fujifilm.)

      Like the HS20, the HS30 provides three shooting options that capitalise on the sensor technology. The High Resolution mode records at the full 16 megapixels to maximise detail and sharpness. The Dynamic Range function uses dual capture technology to provide a maximum range of 1600% with high-contrast subjects. The Signal to Noise mode usesPixel Fusion to minimise noise in low lighting conditions.

      As in the HS20 EXR, the ISO range goes from 100 to 3200 at full resolution, with the ISO 6400 setting cutting the image to 8-megapixels and the ISO 12800setting reducing it to 4- megapixels. Shutter speeds are also controlled by the ISO settings with 1/4 second the slowest possible at ISO 12800 and one second at ISO 3200.

      Image sizes are the same as in the HS20 EXR and shown in the table below.

      Image size

      Pixels

      File size

      Fine

      Normal

      RAW

      4608 x 3456

      28.44MB

      RAW+JPEG (L/Fine)

      4608 x 3456

      36.57MB

      L 4:3

      4608 x 3456

      7.1MB

      4.4MB

      L 3:2

      4608 x 3072

      6.3MB

      3.9MB

      L 16:9

      4608 x 2592

      5.3MB

      3.3MB

      M 4:3

      3264 x 2448

      4.5MB

      2.2MB

      M 3:2

      3264 x 2176

      3.9MB

      2.0MB

      M 16:9

      3264 x 1840

      3.3MB

      1.7MB

      S 4:3

      2304 x 1728

      2.2MB

      1.1MB

      S 3:2

      2304 x 1536

      2.0MB

      1.0MB

      S16:9

      1920 x 1080

      1.2MB

      0.8MB

      Motion Panorama 360 degrees (H)

      11520 x 1080

      6.92MB

      Motion Panorama 360 degrees (V)

      11520 x 1624

      10.45MB

      Motion Panorama180 degrees (H)

      5760 x 1080

      3.46MB

      Motion Panorama180 degrees (V)

      5760 x 1624

      5.17MB

      Motion Panorama120 degrees (H)

      3840 x 1080

      2.32MB

      Motion Panorama120 degrees (V)

      3840 x 1624

      3.46MB

      Aside from support for manual focusing in movie mode, the HS30 has similar movie capabilities to the HS20, right down to the one-touch movie record button that initiates video recording. Typical recording times are shown in the table below.

      Aspect ratio

      Frame size
       (pixels)

      Frame rate

      Recording time/8GB card

      16:9

      1920 x 1080

      30 frames/sec.

      76 minutes

      1280 x 720

      99 minutes

      4:3

      640 x 480

      232 minutes

      HS 640 x 480

      80 frames/sec.

      172 minutes

      HS 320 x 240

      160 frames/sec.

      345 minutes

      HS 320 x 112

      320 frames/sec.

      172 minutes

      Still pictures can be recorded while shooting movies, although not in the high speed modes. Two options are provided: Movie Priority and Still Image Priority. The former captures the still frames at the resolution set for the video recording without interrupting the movie, while the latter causes movie recording to pause while the still image is captured. Image size is M or smaller.

      Playback and Software
       These features are essentially unchanged since the FinePix HS10 and covered in our review of that camera (INSERT LINK).

      Performance
      First the good news: some features in the HS30 are performing a little better and there's been no overall deterioration in picture quality. The bad news is that many of the factors we found problematic in the HS20 haven't changed.

      The autofocusing problems we identified with the HS20 have not been fixed. This is extremely frustrating and, consequently, we have reduced our rating for the HS30 accordingly. While the AF system is capable of locking onto reasonably contrasty subjects in bright light, it remained very slow in any but the most optimal conditions.

      Hunting was common in low light levels and with moving subjects as well as for close-ups. We often had to wait for a second or two for the system to lock on to subjects. To complicate matters, there's no shutter lock to prevent out-of-focus shots from being captured so good shots were often missed.

      Interestingly, digital zoom shots were sharp and clear (when correctly focused) and the built-in stabilisation enabled us to hand-hold the camera at an equivalent focal length to 1440mm in 35mm format using shutter speeds as slow as 1/300 second with ISO 100 sensitivity.

      The exposure metering system was also somewhat variable, being easily upset with backlighting, particularly at the wide end of the zoom range. Dark subjects that covered a large part of the image area tended to be over-exposed when the Auto Dynamic Range setting was used.

      Despite the revisions to the 16-megapixel sensor, our Imatest testing showed resolution to be only marginally higher than we found with the HS20. It remains below expectations for a 16-megapixel camera for both JPEG and RAF.RAW files. Even using Adobe Camera Raw to process the latter failed to bring the top resolution to within a megapixel of expectations.

      Tests across the focal length and aperture ranges of the lens showed edge softening was similar to the HS20 and of concern at the widest apertures, where resolution was highest. The graph below shows the results of analysis of JPEG files at the focal length and aperture settings we were able to test.

      Imatest measurements across the camera's ISO settings were similar to those from the HS20. The graph below shows the results of our tests.

      The results of the lateral chromatic aberration tests were almost identical to those from the HS20, as you would expect since both lenses are the same. In the graph of our Imatest results  below, the red line separates 'negligible' and 'low' CA, while the green line marks the border between 'low' and 'moderate' CA.

       
       Coloured fringing was less evident than we found with the HS20, although it could be seen as a cyan edging along high contrast boundaries in some shots. The lens was fairly flare-prone, even with the supplied lens hood fitted, particularly at the wide end of the zoom range.

      Long exposures were similar to the HS20, with noise becoming visible by ISO 1600, after which is became progressively more obvious. Both long exposures and flash shots taken at ISO 12800 were soft and blotchy.

      Flash shots were similar to those from the HS20, although under-exposure was less apparent and exposures were evenly balanced across the sensitivity range. Noise and softening became increasingly visible  from ISO 6400.

      Auto white balance performance was slightly better than the HS20. The review camera failed to totally remove the colour cast from incandescent lighting but produced neutral colours with fluorescent lighting. Manual measurement also delivered neutral colour rendition and there are plenty of pre-sets and in-camera tweaking adjustments to enable photographers to correct most lighting casts.

      Rectilinear distortion was very obvious as barrel distortion at the wide end of the zoom range but this had largely disappeared by around 25mm. Distortion was negligible at 126mm (the tele end of the zoom range). Vignetting was negligible at all zoom ratios.

      Video quality was similar to the HS20's but the soundtracks were clearer and more engaging. The slow autofocusing system was just as noticeable in movie mode as it was for shooting stills. The tracking AF mode worked as expected but had difficulty keeping pace with moving subjects and moderately-paced pans, particularly when the lens was zoomed in a bit. Exposure metering suffered from the same problems as we identified for shooting stills. The high-speed modes produced similar results to the F550 EXR.

      Response times for the review camera were a bit faster than the HS20's right from start-up, which was reduced to just under two seconds. For our timing tests we used a 32GB SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-1 SDHC card, one of the fastest available.

      Shot-to-shot times were only marginally faster than we found with the HS20, averaging 1.1 seconds without flash and 4.5 seconds with.Capture lag averaged 0.35 seconds without pre-focusing and 0.1 seconds when shots were pre-focused. It took 3.1 seconds to process each Large/Fine JPEG file, 4.6 seconds for each raw file and 5.9 seconds for each RAW+JPEG pair, which is the same as for the HS20 EXR.

      In the high-speed continuous shooting mode, the review camera was able to capture eight Large/Fine JPEGs in 2.3 seconds. It took 4.6 seconds to process this burst, which is faster than the HS20 for a larger burst. Capture rates were the same for raw file and RAW+JPEG capture in burst mode but the buffer memory filled after five frames in each case. It took 17.6 seconds to process five raw shots and 24.1 seconds to process five RAW+JPEG pairs.

      In summary

      Buy this camera if:
       - You're looking for a super-zoom digicam with PASM shooting modes and support for raw file capture. 
       - You want good video performance and would like to record both Full HD video clips and slow-motion movies.
       - You want good wide-angle coverage and effective image stabilisation for shooting both video and still pictures.
       - You would like a powerful and easy-to-use panorama setting.

      Don't buy this camera if:
       - You want to be able to access the full range of shutter speed and aperture settings in the P, A and S shooting modes.
       - You require full resolution images in the EXR modes.
       - You want high burst capacity at high resolution (burst capacity is limited by image size/quality settings).
        - You require fast image file processing.

      SPECS

      Image sensor: 6.4 x 4.8 mm EXR CMOS sensor with 16.0 megapixels effective
      Image processor: EXR
      Lens: Fujinon 4.2-126mm f/2.8-5.6 zoom lens (24-720 mm in 35 mm format); 15 elements in 11 groups
      Zoom ratio: 30x optical, up to 2x digital
      Image formats: Stills - JPEG  (DCF / Exif 2.3) RAF.RAW. RAW+JPEG; Movies - MOV (H.264) with WAVE format stereo sound; 3D - MPO
      Image Sizes: Stills - 4:3 aspect: 4608 x 3456, 3264 x 2448,  2304 x 1728; 3:2 aspect: 4608 x 3072, 3264 x 2176, 2304 x 1536; 16:9 aspect: 4608 x 2592, 3264 x 1840, 1920 x 1080; Motion Panorama: 360°: Vertical 11520 x 1624, Horizontal 11520 x 1080; 180°: Vertical 5760 x 1624, Horizontal 5760 x 1080; 120°: Vertical 3840 x 1624, Horizontal 3840 x 1080; Movies - 1920 x 1080, 1280 x 720, 640 x 480 at 30 fps; 640 x 480 at 80 fps, 320 x 240 at 160 fps, 320 x 112 at 320 fps 
      Shutter speed range: P, S and A modes: 4-1/4000 seconds, M mode to 30 seconds
      Self-timer: 2 or 10 seconds delay, Auto release / Auto release (Dog, Cat)
      Image Stabilisation: CMOS shift type + ISO boost
      Exposure Compensation: +/-2.0EV in 1/3EV steps
      Bracketing: AE Bracketing : +/-1/3EV, +/-2/3EV, +/-1EV; Film Simulation Bracketing: PROVIA / STANDARD, Velvia / VIVID, ASTIA / SOFT; Dynamic Range Bracketing : 100% / 200% / 400%
      Focus system/range: TTL Contrast-based AF with Single AF / Continuous AF (EXR AUTO, Movie),Manual AF (One-push AF mode included) modes; Centre, Multi, Tracking frame selection; range: 45 cm to infinity; macro to 7 cm; Super Macro to 1 cm
      Exposure metering/control: TTL 256-zone metering with Multi, Spot and Average modes
      Shooting modes: Auto, EXR, P, S, A, M, C, Panorama, SP 1/2 (Natural Light, Natural Light & with Flash, Portrait, Portrait Enhancer, Dog, Cat, Landscape, Sport, Night, Night (Tripod), Fireworks, Sunset, Snow, Beach, Party, Flower, Text), Advanced
      ISO range: Auto, ISO 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200; ISO 6400 and ISO 12800 at reduced image sizes
      White balance: Auto, Fine, Shade, Fluorescent light (Daylight), Fluorescent light (Warm White), Fluorescent light (Cool White), Incandescent light, Underwater, Custom
      Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Auto, Forced Flash, Suppressed Flash, Slow Synch; red-eye reduction available; range: approx. 30 cm - 7.1 m
      Sequence shooting: Max. 8 fps at full 16-megapixel resolution or 11 fps at 8-megapixel for up to 16 JPEG shots (Max. 5 frames RAW/RAW+JPEG)
      Storage Media: Approx. 25MB internal memory plus expansion slot for SD, SDHC, SDXC (UHS-I) cards
      Viewfinder: 0.26-inch colour EVF with approx. 920,000 dots, approx. 100% FOV coverage
      LCD monitor: 3.0-inch TFT colour LCD monitor with approx. 460,000 dots approx. 100% coverage
      Power supply: Li-ion battery NP-W126 (included); CIPArated for approx. 600 shots/charge 
      Dimensions (wxhxd): 130.6 x 96.6 x 126.0 mm
      Weight: 637 grams (without battery and memory card)

      RRP: AUD$599; US$499.95
      Distributor: Fujifilm Australia; 1800 226 355; www.fujifilm.com.au

      TESTS

      For JPEG files.

       

       

      For RAF.RAW files processed with Adobe Camera Raw.

       

       

       

       

       

      SAMPLES 

      Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.

      Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.

       

      Distortion at 4.2mm.
       
       

      Distortion at 126mm.

      4.2mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/250 second at f/7.1.

       

      126mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/250 second at f/8.
       
       

      2x digital zoom; ISO 100, 1/420 second at f/8.
       
       

      126mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/250 second at f/5.6.
       
       

      2x digital zoom; ISO 200, 1/300 second at f/7.1.
       

       Macro setting; 4.2mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/2500 second at f/4.
       
       

      Macro setting; 81mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/160 second at f/5.
       
       

      30-second exposure at ISO 100; 6mm focal length, f/3.6.
       
       

      4-second exposure at ISO 800; 6mm focal length, f/3.6.
       
       

      1-second exposure at ISO 3200; 6mm focal length, f/3.6.
       
       

      1/2-second exposure at ISO 6400; 6mm focal length, f/3.6.

      1/4-second exposure at ISO 12800; 6mm focal length, f/3.6.
       
       

      Flash exposure at ISO 100; 23mm focal length, 1/150 second at f/4.5.
       
       

      Flash exposure at ISO 800; 23mm focal length, 1/150 second at f/4.5.
       
       

      Flash exposure at ISO 3200; 23mm focal length, 1/150 second at f/4.5.
       
       

      Flash exposure at ISO 6400; 23mm focal length, 1/150 second at f/4.5.
       
       

      Flash exposure at ISO 12800; 23mm focal length, 1/150 second at f/4.5.

      Strong backlighting; 4.2mm focal length, ISO 400, 1/105 second at f/2.8; spot metering.

       

      Flare at 4.2mm focal length; ISO 400, 1/500 second at f/4; spot metering.

      Skin tones; 5mm focal length, ISO 2500, 1/75 second at f/3.2. (Photograph by Phoebe Batley.)

      126mm focal length, ISO 3200, 1/240 second at f/5.6; centre-weighted metering. (Photograph by Phoebe Batley.)

       

      38mm focal length, ISO 400, 1/150 second at f/5; spot metering. (Photograph by Phoebe Batley.)
       
       

      115mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/550 second at f/8; spot metering. (Photograph by Phoebe Batley.)

      Still frame from Full HD 1080p video clip.

       

       Still frame from HD 720p video clip.

      Still frame from VGA video clip.

       

       Still frame from video clip taken with the high-speed 80 fps mode.
       
       

      Still frame from video clip taken with the high-speed 160 fps mode.
       
       

      Still frame from video clip taken with the high-speed 320 fps mode.

       Rating

      RRP: AUD$599; US$499.95

      •  Build: 8.5
      • Ease of use: 8.0
      • Autofocusing: 7.0
      • Still image quality JPEG: 7.5
      • Still image quality RAW: 8.0
      • Video quality: 8.8 

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