While the X30 isn’t a major upgrade to the X20, the new EVF does provide significant advantages over the previous model and gives users greater shooting flexibility as well as making the camera more pleasant to use.
The larger, tilting monitor screen adds to these benefits. The longer battery life will also please many potential buyers.
Aside from these features, the sensor in the X30 is relatively small for the asking price of this camera, which for Australian buyers is $80 more than for the X20 when it first went on sale; no doubt as a result of the devaluation of the $A. US buyers can expect the same MSRP as for the X20.
It’s a pity the bundled raw file converter compromises resolution so much that it can’t deliver optimal results from the camera’s raw files. With a better converter (and an update to Adobe Camera Raw is due soon), it might otherwise have qualified for an Editor’s Choice nomination.
Fujifilm chose Photokina 2014 to announce upgrades to a couple of cameras it released just over a year ago, one being the fixed-lens X30. Although superficially the differences between the X20 and X30 appear small, the replacement of an average optical viewfinder by a top-class EVF and a fixed LCD monitor with a tilting screen with much higher resolution is attractive. The addition of built-in Wi-Fi and improvements to the AF and ISO capabilities and battery life will also please potential buyers.
Fujifilm will offer the X30 in the same black and silver liveries as it used for the X20. (Source: Fujifilm.)
Who’s it for?
The market positioning of the X30 remains the same as for the X20. Primarily, it’s aimed at enthusiast and professional photographers who want a compact ‘walk-around’ camera that can double, if needed, as a back-up for shooting events and during travel. Whether the refinements the new camera offers make it a compelling upgrade will depend on which camera the buyer is upgrading from and how the images and movie clips the X30 produces are used.
Features that carry over into the new camera from the X20 include the basic body design, 28-112mm (35mm equivalent) f/2-f/2.8 lens and built-in flash. Twelve megapixels is also the maximum resolution, which is the same as the X20 offered. However both the sensor and image processor have been updated to second-generation devices (details below).
The illustrations above, showing the front, rear and top views of the X30, confirm the X30’s similarity to the X20 model it replaces. (Source: Fujifilm.)
Close-up shooting is one area in which the X30 performs better than its predecessors, particularly in the Super-Macro mode, which will focus to within 10 mm of subjects ““ although only with the 28mm setting. The new EVF makes it easy to frame subjects accurately in this mode.
The most important improvement in the X30 is the new EVF, which is significantly larger, brighter and more accurate than the OVF in the X20. Its OLED screen has a resolution of 2.36 million dots and provides 100% coverage of the sensor’s field of view for easy framing of shots. In these respects it is identical to the EVF in the X-T1, but its magnification of 0.65x is lower than the X-T1’s 0.77x.
Fujifilm says the EVF screen has a display lag time of just 0.005 seconds, which means moving subjects can be followed as easily as they are with an optical finder. The image also rotates smoothly when the camera’s orientation is changed. The brightness of the screen can is set by default to automatic adjustment but can also be adjusted manually.
The Graphical User Interface in the X30’s electronic viewfinder. (Source: Fujifilm.)
The viewfinder is set up for shooting with the 4:3 aspect ratio but the top and bottom of the screen black when composing shots with 3:2 or 16:9 aspect ratios. A new Graphical User Interface overlays key camera settings on the screen, superimposing them on the image in the 4:3 aspect ratio (as shown in the illustration above) and in the blacked out areas with the other aspect ratio settings.
The larger rear LCD monitor is a 3-inch screen with a higher resolution of 920,000 dots. It is also articulated and pulls out from the camera to be tilted up through 90 degrees for waist level viewing or down at an angle of about 45 degrees for above-the-head shooting. The adjustments don’t extend to taking ‘selfies’, however, and touch controls aren’t available.
Built-in Wi-Fi is likely to be the next feature of interest. It requires the Fujifilm Camera Remote App, which is available for Android and iOS, to be installed on the connected smart-phone or tablet, after which many camera settings can be adjusted from the device’s touch screen.
Camera functions that can be controlled via Wi-Fi include basics like shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation and ISO sensitivity as well as the self-timer, flash and Film Simulation settings. The ‘Touch AF’ function in the app enables focusing by touch from a phone or tablet.
The app also supports wireless transfer of photos to a connected smart device. Up to 30 still images can be transferred at a time in their original size or compressed via the 3M compressed image option. Movies can also be transferred, although Full HD clips may not be playable on smart-phone screens with low resolution. A data limit of 2GB applies to multiple file transfers.
Fujifilm Camera Remote also enables users to set up the camera to acquire location data from a connected smart-phone for geotagging images. The camera can also be configured to auto-save images and movie clips to a network-enabled computer via Wi-Fi using the PC AutoSave mode in the camera’s menu.
Instant printing of JPEG images is available via the instax SHARE app, which connects the camera to a Fujifilm instax SHARE Smartphone Printer SP-1. The credit-card sized prints are 62 x 46 mm in size with a resolution of 10 dots/mm.
The power on/off switch remains on the zoom ring, as it has since the original X10. The focusing ring, which is closer to the X30’s body is now programmable and can be used for adjusting settings like ISO, white balance, Film Simulation and drive modes. A button on the front panel lets you toggle through the available options or select the ‘STD’ default setting, which varies the function, depending on the selected shooting mode.
This ring defaults to manual focusing when it’s selected with the lever on the front panel and it matches focusing speed to the speed at which it is turned. Magnification and focus peaking are available to assist in this mode. Another new addition is a dedicated movie record button, located to the right of the shutter release.
The new Classic Chrome Film Simulation Mode has been added to the 10 settings provided in the X20 (PROVIA/STANDARD, Velvia/VIVID, ASTIA/SOFT, PRO Neg Hi, PRO Neg. Std, MONOCHROME, MONOCHROME+Ye FILTER, MONOCHROME+R FILTER, MONOCHROME+G FILTER and SEPIA). It simulates Kodachrome reversal film (although Fujifilm doesn’t say as much) and, according to Fujifilm ‘incorporates soft gradation, rich details in shadows and full-bodied tones to avoid saturated blues, greens and reds’.
The other improvement that may drive potential upgraders is to battery capacity, which although not rivalling a typical DSLR, almost doubles that of the X20. CIPA rated at 470 shots per charge, the X30 claims to have ‘the best battery life of any enthusiast compact’ camera.
A new Interval Timer function in the shooting menu lets users select the interval and number of shots and nominate the starting time for a sequence. It’s not supported in the panorama modes, nor with multiple exposures. In burst mode, only one shot will be taken each time the shutter is released.
A 2.5mm stereo mini connector has been added to the micro USB and micro HDMI ports on the right hand side of the camera. It doubles as a connector for an external microphone or remote shutter release. The hot-shoe for mounting external flashguns or microphones is unchanged.
Fujifilm has addressed a couple of issues we identified in our review of the X20. There’s now a Release/Focus priority setting in the AF mode pages that lets you choose whether to prioritise shutter response or focus. Selecting the latter means shots can only be taken when the camera is in focus.
Anomalies associated with shutter speed selections appear to have been corrected. Users can now shoot with a maximum shutter speed of 1/4000 second in the aperture and shutter priority modes as well as the manual mode.
The lens is essentially the same Fujinon 7.1 – 28.4mm f/2-f/2.8 zoom lens that has been used since the X-10. Covering focal lengths equivalent to 28-112mm in 35mm format, it has a minimum aperture of f/11 and consists of 11 elements in nine groups. Three glass moulded aspherical lenses are included in the design.
Fujifilm has retained the ‘traditional’ shutter button styling with threading for a standard cable release. Continuous shooting speeds are the same as the X2-‘s with a top rate of 12 fps for JPEGs or 9 fps for raw files.
Video capabilities are unchanged since the X-20 and include support for Full HD (1080p) and HD (720p) video recording at 24, 25, 30, 50 and 60 frames/second plus VGA at 30 or 80 frames/second, 320 x 240 pixels at 150 fps and 320 x 112 pixels at 250 fps. Soundtracks are recorded in Linear PCM stereo.
Users can snap still pictures while recording movie clips and select from movie or still image priority settings. With movie priority the still images are simply frame grabs that are captures without interrupting the movie recording. Pictures taken with still image priority default to the selected image size and the movie recording is interrupted briefly.
The elimination of the two Custom memory settings and their replacement by duplicate Scene Position modes is difficult to understand in a camera of this type. Page 3 of the shooting menu carries an EDIT/SAVE CUSTOM SETTING mode, which provides seven memory banks for saving combinations of frequently-used settings. This may satisfy some potential buyers.
There’s still no neutral density filter and in bright conditions with f/2 you can be forced to stop down, restricting your ability to shoot with a shallow depth of focus, one of the more attractive features of the fast lens. It’s also a shame Fujifilm didn’t add touch sensitivity to the LCD monitor.
The tripod mount is off-centre and, while this has the advantage of enabling you to access the battery/card compartment when using a tripod, it puts the camera’s optical axis off-centre and can cause setting-up issues for close-up shots. There’s still no way to tether the cap to either the camera or the neck strap.
You can only fit filters if you buy the optional LH-X20 Lens Hood and Adapter Ring set. No HDMI cable is supplied, even though the camera has an HDMI port.
Sensor and Image Processing
The 2/3-inch (8.8 x 6.6 mm) X-Trans CMOS II sensor is the same size as the sensor in the X20 (and the X10) and has the same resolution. The X30 provides the same image size and aspect ratio settings as its predecessor. Details can be found in the review of the X20.
Raw file capture is supported at sensitivities up to ISO 3200, the same level at which the Auto shooting modes cut out. As expected, in-camera processing options like Film Simulation, dynamic range, filter effects, advanced shooting modes, motion panorama or scene selection settings are only available with JPEG files. (Post-processing adjustments can be made if you shoot raw files.) Motion panorama settings are the same as in the X20.
Playback and Software
Neither has changed significantly since the X10. The bundled raw file converter is still Silkypix based but, given the results we obtained with this software, we suggest you use an alternative third-party converter. Just about any one we can think of should be better than the supplied software.
Unfortunately, when we conducted our tests, raw files from the X30 weren’t supported by the latest version of Adobe Camera Raw (v.8.6) so we were forced to use the bundled application. This accounts for the huge discrepancy in resolution between JPEG and raw files in our test results.
Subjective assessments of test shots showed them to be similar to images from the X20, although JPEGs straight out of the camera were somewhat sharper and more detailed. Colour rendition was similar to the X20, although the default contrast appeared to be slightly higher.
Imatest showed the same tendency to boost reds, although not at the expense of yellows, which were closer to ideal values than in the X20. Greens remained slightly subdued but blues were slightly boosted and the overall saturation was at a similar level to most consumer digicams.
As mentioned above, Imatest testing produced the same anomalous results as we have obtained from all the previous Fujifilm cameras we have tested where we have been forced to use the bundled raw file converter instead of Adobe Camera Raw, our preferred converter. For both file types we found the expected slow but steady decline in resolution as sensitivity was increased. The graph below shows the results of our tests.
The highest resolution in our Imatest tests was achieved at between f/3.6 and f/4 with focal length from around 8mm to 11mm (35-50mm in 35mm format), although longer focal lengths were sharpest at maximum aperture. Diffraction reduced resolution sharply from this point to the minimum aperture of f/11. Edge softening was detected at wider apertures, particularly at longer focal lengths, as shown in the graph of our Imatest test below.
Lateral chromatic aberration was mostly negligible ranging into the low region at smaller apertures with longer focal lengths. It is unlikely to affect most users since coloured fringing never became visible in our test shots. In the graph below of our Imatest results, the red line marks the boundary between negligible and low CA with the green line separating the low and moderate bands.
Autofocusing was fast enough for most situations and generally accurate. The tracking mode was able to keep pace with most moving subjects, provided they remained within the frame for at least a second. Auto zoom and focus peaking are available to assist manual focusing.
Exposure metering was as good as the X20’s ““ even in very low light levels. The only times we had instances of over- or under-exposure were in very contrasty conditions ““ and these are difficult to handle for all small-sensor digicams.
We encountered some issues when shooting our vignetting tests in the aperture priority mode, which applied a top shutter-speed limit of 1/1000 second at the f/2 aperture, causing over-exposure. A built-in ND filter would have been handy but in its absence we had to hold a larger ND filter over the camera’s lens.
Image noise became visible at around ISO 3200 in both long exposures and flash shots. Softening of detail was also apparent in the long-exposure shots but to a lesser extent in the images captured with flash. Much more detail had been lost in the available light exposures at ISO 12800 than in the flash exposures, which remained a lot sharper.
Lens flare was similar to that found with the X20, as were the native levels of distortion and vignetting, both of which were evaluated on RAF.RAW files, which were converted into JPEG format with no editing adjustments. Shots taken with the widest apertures at the shorter focal lengths showed the same ‘reverse vignetting’ as we found with the X20.
Bokeh in close-up shots taken with the Macro and Super-Macro AF settings depended a lot on the lighting conditions. Where there were no abrupt changes in brightness, it was relatively smooth and generally attractive. However, large differences in brightness resulted in choppy bokeh with outlining in most bright highlight areas.
Unchanged features such as white balance. Digital zoom and video recording delivered results that were very similar to the ones we obtained from the X20.
We carried out our timing tests with the same 8GB SanDisk Ultra SDHC UHS 1 card as we used for testing the X20. As before, the review camera powered-up within roughly one second of the lens ring being turned to the 28mm position.
We measured an average capture lag of 0.2 seconds, which was eliminated by pre-focusing. It took 0.9 seconds, on average to process each JPEG file and 2.0 seconds for each RAF.RAW file and RAW+JPEG pair.
Shot-to shot times averaged 0.65 seconds without flash and 1.3 seconds with. In the fastest continuous shooting mode, the camera recorded 28 JPEGs in 3.1 seconds before slowing slightly. Processing this burst took approximately 18 seconds. The medium-speed setting recorded 38 full-resolution images in 4.8 seconds. It took 21.2 seconds to process each burst.
With raw files the buffer memory can only hold 12 frames before recording pauses, which happened after 1.4 seconds. It took 20.6 seconds to process this burst. For RAW+JPEG pairs, the frame rate and buffer capacity were the same as for raw files but it took 28.5 seconds to process the burst of 12 frames.
While the X30 isn’t a major upgrade to the X20, the new EVF does provide significant advantages over the previous model and gives users greater shooting flexibility as well as making the camera more pleasant to use. The larger, tilting monitor screen adds to these benefits. The longer battery life will also please many potential buyers.
Aside from these features, the sensor in the X30 is relatively small for the asking price of this camera, which for Australian buyers is $80 more than for the X20 when it first went on sale; no doubt as a result of the devaluation of the $A. US buyers can expect the same MSRP as for the X20. It’s a pity the bundled raw file converter compromises resolution so much that it can’t deliver optimal results from the camera’s raw files. With a better converter (and an update to Adobe Camera Raw is due soon), it might otherwise have qualified for an Editor’s Choice nomination.
Image sensor: 8.8 x 6.6 mm X-Trans CMOS II sensor with an effective resolution of 12 megapixels
Image processor: EXR Processor II
A/D processing: 12-bit
Lens: Fujinon 7.1 – 28.4mm f/2-f/2.8 zoom (28-112mm in 35 mm format)
Zoom ratio: 4x optical, up to 2x digital
Image formats: Stills – JPEG (DCF / Exif 2.3), RAF.RAW, RAW+JPEG; Movies – MOV (H264/Linear PCM audio)
Image Sizes: Stills – 4:3 aspect: 4000 x 3000, 2816 x 2112, 2048 x 1536; 3:2 aspect: 4000 x 2664, 2816 x 1864, 2048 x 1360; 16:9 aspect: 4000 x 2248, 2816 x 1584, 1920 x 1080; 1:1 aspect: 2992 x 2992, 2112 x 2112, 1536 x 1536; 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 pixels / 1280 x 720 pixels (60 fps, 50 fps, 30 fps, 25 fps, 24 fps) / 640 x 480 pixels (30 fps, 25 fps) with stereo sound; Optical zoom (manual) can be used.
Shutter speed range: 30 sec. to 1/4000 seconds (minimum 1/4 sec in Auto mode)
Self-timer: 2 or 10 seconds delay
Image Stabilisation: Lens shift type
Exposure Compensation: +/- 3EV in 1/3EV steps
Bracketing: AE Bracketing : +/-1/3EV, 2/3EV, 1EV; Film Simulation Bracketing : Any 3 type of Film Simulation selectable; Dynamic Range Bracketing : 100% / 200% / 400%; ISO sensitivity Bracketing : +/-1/3EV, 2/3EV, 1EV; White Balance Bracketing (+/-1, +/-2, +/-3)
Focus system/range: Intelligent Hybrid AF (TTL contrast AF / TTL phase detection AF) with Single/Continuous modes and manual focusing; Face Detection; Multi, Area, Tracking AF frame selection; range: approx. 50 cm to infinity; Super Macro to 1 cm
Exposure metering/control: TTL 256-zone metering with , Spot & Average modes
Shooting modes: Auto, Advanced SR Auto, P, A, S, M, Panorama, SP1, SP2, Advanced (multi-shot), Filter
Scene presets: Portrait, Portrait Enhancer, Landscape, Sport, Night, Night (Tripod), Fireworks, Sunset, Snow, Beach, Party, Flower, Text, Underwater
In-camera effects: Toy camera, Miniature, Pop colour, High-key, Low-key, Dynamic tone, Partial colour, Soft focus
ISO range: Auto (x3) ISO 100-12800 in 1/3EV steps
White balance: Auto, Fine, Shade, Fluorescent light (Daylight), Fluorescent light (Warm White), Fluorescent light (Cool White), Incandescent light, Underwater, Custom, Colour temperature selection
Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Manual pop-up flash, Auto, Forced Flash, Slow Synchro., Commander, Suppressed Flash (red-eye reduction available); range approx. 30cm – 7.0m
Sequence shooting: Max. 12 frames/second
Buffer memory depth (based on tests): 28 JPEGs, 12 raw files, 12 RAW+JPEG
Storage Media: Internal memory (approx. 55MB) plus expansion slot for SD/SDHC/SDXC cards (UHS-I compatible)
Viewfinder: 0.39-in., approx. 2.360K-dot OLED colour viewfinder with 100% FOV coverage, 0.65x magnification; approx. 17.5mm eyepoint, -4 to +2 dioptre adjustment, built-in eye sensor
LCD monitor: 3.0-inch, aspect ratio 3:2, approx. 920K-dot, Tilt type colour LCD monitor (approx. 100% coverage)
Playback: Face Detection, Auto red-eye removal, Multi-frame playback (with micro thumbnail), Protect, Crop, Resize, Slide show, Image rotate, Histogram display, Exposure warning, Photobook assist, Image search, Favourites, Mark for upload, Panorama, Erase Selected Frames, RAW Conversion
Interface terminals/communications: Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11b / g / n standard wireless protocol), micro USB 2.0 terminal, HDMI mini connector (Type D), 2.5mm stereo mini connector for microphone / remote shutter release
Power supply: NP-95 Li-ion battery; CIPA rated for approx. 470 shots/charge
Dimensions (wxhxd): 118.7 x 71.6 x 60.3 mm
Weight: 383 grams (without battery and memory card)
Based on JPEG files.
Based on RAW.RAW files converted with the supplied Raw Image Processor.
Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.
Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.
ISO 100, 30-second exposure at f/2.8; 36mm focal length.
ISO 800, 4-second exposure at f/2.2; 36mm focal length.
ISO 3200, 1-second exposure at f/2.2; 36mm focal length.
ISO 6400, 1.2-second exposure at f/2.2; 36mm focal length.
ISO 12800, 1/4-second exposure at f/2.2; 36mm focal length.
Flash exposure at ISO 100; 1/30 second at f/2.8; 112mm focal length.
Flash exposure at ISO 800; 1/30 second at f/2.8; 112mm focal length.
Flash exposure at ISO 3200; 1/40 second at f/2.8; 112mm focal length.
Flash exposure at ISO 6400; 1/85 second at f/2.8; 112mm focal length.
Flash exposure at ISO 12800; 1/180 second at f/2.8; 112mm focal length.
Vignetting at maximum aperture, 28mm setting.
Vignetting at maximum aperture, 50mm setting.
Vignetting at maximum aperture, 112mm setting.
Distortion at 28mm setting.
Distortion at 50mm setting.
Distortion at 112mm setting.
7mm focal length (28mm equiv.); ISO 100, 1/800 second at f/5.
8mm focal length (50mm equiv.); ISO 100, 1/900 second at f/5.
11mm focal length (85mm equiv.); ISO 100, 1/850 second at f/4.5.
28mm focal length (112mm equiv.); ISO 100, 1/320 second at f/4.
Close-up with Super-macro focus mode; 7mm focal length; ISO 100, 1/750 second at f/2.
Choppy bokeh in Super-macro focus mode; 7mm focal length; ISO 100, 1/850 second at f/2.
Panorama mode; 7mm focal length; ISO 100, 1/850 second at f/2.
Flare produced by strong backlighting;7mm focal length; ISO 100, 1/420 second at f/5.6.
112mm focal length; ISO 100, 1/800 second at f/7.1.
No filter; 7mm focal length; ISO 200, 1/900 second at f/5.
Partial Colour – orange.
Partial Colour – green.
Still frame from HD video clip recorded at 1920 x 1080 pixels.
Still frame from HD video clip recorded at 1280 x 720 pixels.
Still frame from VGA video clip recorded at 30 fps.
Still frame from QVGA (320 x 240 pixels) video clip recorded at 150 fps.
Still frame from high-speed video clip recorded at 250 frames/second and 320 x 112 pixels.
RRP: AU$829; US$600
- Build: 8.8
- Ease of use: 8.5
- Autofocusing: 8.5
- Image quality JPEG: 8.8
- Image quality RAW: 7.0
- Video quality: 8.3