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Fujifilm X30: First Look


Fujifilm X30: First Look

Fujifilm doesn’t seem to be very consistent in timing its updates, but I guess this one came out just around when we were expecting it: the upgrade to the highly acclaimed X20, the newest compact of the fantastic X-series, the Fujifilm X30 is here

The original Fujifilm X-series compact, the X10, was a pretty big success, even if it was flawed. The beautiful retro-inspired design, the large (in its class) image sensor, the terrific control layout, the fast lens, and of course its wonderful image quality combined to form one of the first truly premium compacts in the world. Unfortunately, like I said, it was flawed. Most noticeable of which was the faulty sensor. Fujifilm was admirable in its response to this particular issue, offering free replacement sensors to everyone who owned an X10, and making sure all new production batches were fixed before shipment – but as predicted, the Fujifilm X10 was always remembered for these problems, and not as the fairly revolutionary product that it was. Soon after this, the market became full of cameras in this premium category, from the Lumix LX series to Sony’s RX100 range, among many others – and while the X10 held its own, people were always hesitant to buy a camera that had a known fault, even though this wasn’t true in most production batches of the X10

Anyway, then we came to the X20 – a superb upgrade to the X10, which left everything good about the X10, and fixed everything bad about it. Perfect? Quite close. I owned it, used it, loved it – until the RX100 II won me over. But it’s a really good camera. And now we have yet another step-up in the line. How did Fuji go about the update this time?

Well, to be honest, when upgrading a camera that was 90% good and 10% bad, as the X10 was, its easy to leave most of it intact and fix the bits that needed fixing. But when you have a camera that’s nearly all good, you need to do a little more than that. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like Fujifilm has gone for that little bit extra this time around

Image from Amazon

Image from Amazon

The Fujifilm X30 sports the same design, the same sensor, the same processor, the same lens, and…yeah, you see what I mean. There ARE improvements, yes – and some people would consider these significant – such as a high-resolution EVF that replaces the basic OVF of the X20, built-in WiFi, and a much clearer (and articulating) LCD; but is it enough? I’m not sure it is

If you’re buying a new camera, you will probably pick the X30 over the X20, naturally – but X20 users, will you want to upgrade? I’m not very sure you would

Let’s have a look and see what I discover when digging deeper into the Fuji X30 – and maybe I’ll change my mind by the end of this post. Right now, I feel it’s another solid camera, but it’s not the awesome upgrade I was expecting

Buy from Amazon in Black / or in Silver – or get it from B&H Photo

If you’re into it, however, please use my links to get it. It’s available for pre-order, or if you’re viewing this in late October, it’s available for sale. If you decide to get something else (a Sony, perhaps?), you could still use the links above and then search for whatever other camera you’re getting – it’ll still do a lot for pixelogist! 

Specifications You Would Want To Know

  • Body: Compact, Magnesium Alloy
  • Resolution: 12.0 mega pixels
  • Sensor Size: 2/3”
  • Sensor Type: X-Trans II CMOS
  • Lens: Fujinon 7.1-28.4mm f2.0-2.8 (28-112mm equivalent)
  • Image Stabilization: Yes, optical
  • Shutter Speeds: Max 1/4000 sec, Min 30 sec
  • ISO Range: 100-12800
  • Video: 1080p @ 60fps (and lower resolutions/fps)
  • Video Format: MOV (H.264)
  • Metering Modes: Multi, Average, Spot
  • Exposure Modes: P, A, S, M, Auto, Scene Recognition, Advanced, SP1/SP2, Filter, Panorama
  • Built-in Flash: Yes, Pop-up
  • Flash Modes: Auto, Forced, Slow Sync, Commander, Suppressed
  • Hot-shoe: Yes
  • Autofocus: Hybrid (Phase/Contrast Detect) AF
  • AF Modes: Single, Continuous, Tracking, Macro
  • AF Points: 49
  • Manual Focus: Yes
  • Macro Range: 1cm (at 28mm)
  • Screen: 3.0” LCD (920k-dots)
  • Articulation: Yes, tilt (90° up, 45° down)
  • Touchscreen: No
  • Viewfinder: Yes, electronic (0.39”, 2.36m-dots, 100% coverage)
  • Max Drive Speed: 12fps
  • File Formats: JPEG, RAW
  • Connections: USB 2.0, microHDMI, WiFi
  • Memory Card Type: SD/SDHC/SDXC
  • Dimensions: 119 x 72 x 60mm
  • Weight: 423g (including battery/memory)

First Thoughts

Well, regardless of what has been upgraded and what has not, the Fujifilm X30 is a fine camera. The Fujinon lens is beautiful – it’s fast, it’s sharp, and the zoom range is pretty much exactly what everyone needs from a compact camera. The X-Trans II sensor is exactly what it is on other Fujifilm X-series cameras, and it’ll deliver top-notch image quality, with glorious colors, and class-leading noise control. The design, well – you know how much I love the design. It’s not truly compact or pocketable like the RX100, and the lens cap is a bit of a nuisance considering it’s a ‘point-and-shoot’ camera after all, but it just looks gorgeous, and the control layout is fantastic. That, plus the manual zoom lens, which is obviously present on the X30 as well, makes these Fujifilm compacts some of the nicest cameras to use

Alright, that’s all very nice, but all of this is available on the X20 too. Let me get into the upgrades now, the stuff that’s new in the X30 – starting with the new electronic viewfinder: a pretty high-resolution 2.36m-dot EVF, with 100% coverage. Compared to the X20’s optical VF, with its 85% coverage, this is a definite improvement. I can’t seem to find specs on the refresh rate and such on the EVF, something that I consider very important, but Fujifilm claims it feels very much like an OVF, with hardly any lag – and it’s fairly large – so I’m pretty certain it’ll work great. It sounds like a very nice addition, and should be far more useable than the X20’s viewfinder

The LCD is new. The 920k-dot 3” LCD replaces the 2.8”/460k-dot screen found on the X20, and now tilts 90° up and 45° down. The fairly low-res screen on the X20 was a disappointment, and I considered it a bit of a let-down on that camera, so it’s good to see that being fixed here. The extra 0.2” size would help too

Built-in Wi-Fi is something that I don’t consider a must-have, but I know some do, and it’s definitely useful at times. And the X30 has it

Next up is the new control ring. At first, I thought the controls and design were identical to the X20, but I now see I was mistaken: the X30 has a new control ring around the lens, in addition to the manual zoom ring. This can control many different settings, much like the control ring on the RX100 – with default settings controlling aperture in Aperture Priority mode, shutter speed in Shutter Priority mode, and so on, and its function can also be switched by the user, via a button on the front of the camera. I’m not sure how well it works (I’m not a fan of how the RX100’s ring works) but this along with the manual zoom ring must feel pretty nice to use.

Lastly, battery life – something that all new Fuji cameras seem to receive complaints on – has been improved. The X20 is rated at 270 shots, and the new X30 should give you no less than 470. This remains to be seen, of course, but I think it’s safe to say the X30’s battery will last quite a bit longer than the X20’s

Other than these few changes, the X30 is near identical to the X20. The camera itself is larger in every dimension (by a couple mm, no more), a bit heavier (about 50g more), it has a larger grip, and yeah – that’s about it. I believe it has a new microphone input, which the X20 lacked, and the control layout has been slightly modified compared to its predecessor, but yeah – that’s about it. I’ll talk more about the controls next, but that’s the X30 in a nutshell. What do you think?


Controls

The controls are mostly similar on the X30 when comparing it to the previous two models, and if you’re an X10 or X20 user, you’d be very comfortable with this camera right out of the box. However, there are a few changes, and some of them are definite improvements

Starting with the top of the camera, we have the mode dial, the shutter button, the exposure compensation dial, and a dedicated movie record button (which can be customized); the X20 had the Fn button instead of the movie button, but the X30 moves the Fn button to the back panel instead. On the right side of the top panel is the same pop-up (non-flexible) flash head, and right in the middle of this panel is the hot-shoe for an external flash

Image from Amazon

Image from Amazon

Moving on to the back panel, where most of everything you need is, you will find: the EVF, instead of the X20’s OVF, beside which is a diopter adjustment, a flash release switch, and the Playback button. On the other side of the EVF is a View button, the Drive/Delete button, and the (only) command dial. I say ‘only’ because the X10/X20 had this command dial plus the one around the 4-way directional pad, but the X30 dumps the second dial in favor of the more useable ring around the lens

Image from Amazon

Image from Amazon

Below the command dial is the very important AE Lock/AF Lock button, below which is the Q menu button – a button that calls up a customizable Q menu, a menu that allows you to quickly access and modify several key settings, something I use very often on my X-E1. Below THAT, finally, is the 4-way directional pad, which controls (as you can see) Macro, Self Timer, Flash, and AF. In the middle is a Menu/OK button, and remember, this 4-way pad does NOT double as a command ring. There’s also the usual Display/Back button, and the customizable Fn button. The Fn button doubles up as a WiFi button when needed. And that’s it on the back panel

Note that, unlike the previous two models, the X30 has nothing on the left side of the LCD. I think I like it this way – it’s cleaner

Image from Amazon

Image from Amazon

In front of the camera are the important dual rings – the manual zoom ring, and the control ring which can adjust settings from aperture/shutter speed to manual focus or ISO – depending on what mode you are in (default settings) or what setting you want to control. If switching from default settings, the button just by the side of the grip will let you do this. Also on front of the camera is the AF mode (single, continuous, MF) switch, and of course, like the X10/X20, the manual zoom ring turns the camera on and off too – just switch it from the 28mm to the OFF position or vice versa

And that’s it for controls. I hope I got them all

Performance

Usually, I can’t comment with too much certainty on performance when I write these First Look posts. But having used the X20 extensively, and seeing that the X30 is identical in most performance aspects, I think I can talk with a bit more certainty than normal on this one

With the same processing power and all that, the camera should work really smoothly. Power-on speed: very fast, near instant. The only lag here is the time taken to remove the lens cap. Shot-to-shot speed: near instant, again

Autofocus speed: the contrast/phase detect hybrid AF system on the X20 is very fast in daylight, although it slows down considerably at night. Overall, the X20’s AF system is very good – fast in all but the most trying circumstances, and usually very accurate – and most users will be very satisfied with it; and I expect the same (no better, no worse) from the X30

Burst shooting speed is rated at the same 12fps, which is excellent. That’s as fast as you’re going to get with any camera that takes a decent picture, really. I recall the X20 shooting for around 1-2 second at full speed, capturing at least 12-15 JPEG frames before slowing down to write to the card. With RAW, you’d get around 8-10 frames at full speed. The processor really keeps things moving here, so you’re ready to get back to shooting almost immediately after your current burst is done. Again, I expect the same from the X30

And yeah, that’s about all I can say for performance. Basic operation, shot-to-shot, power-on, AF speeds, continuous bursts, it should all be pretty rapid, and lag-free. The X20 was – and this should be the same or better!

Conclusion

Yes, that’s the Fujifilm X30. Not a bad upgrade, and not something to make you jump around your room in excitement either. To me, it’s the X20 with an EVF. Nothing more. The few improvements, like the tilting (and clearer) LCD and the new control ring, will make a difference, and make it a nicer camera to use than the X20, but it’s still the same thing at heart

Not that this is a bad thing. The X20 is a very good camera to begin with. And having the same camera with a very high-quality EVF is a nice prospect indeed. But the market having cameras like the RX100 III, with the same kind of EVF, and a much larger sensor, and (in my opinion) a better AF system, in a significantly smaller body, Fujifilm needed to upgrade the core of the X20 to give us something new. A newer sensor – a larger one, at that – or a smaller body, or even a faster lens. Something of that sort. And not simply the same camera with an extra feature or two

For the first time since the X10 came out, I’m a bit disappointed with a new Fujifilm X-series model. Oh well


Buy from Amazon in Black / or in Silver – or get it from B&H Photo

If you like what you see – and if you’re buying your first Fuji, not upgrading your X20, you should like what you see – you would be doing a big favor to pixelogist by using one of my links posted above! And if you’d rather get the RX100 III (which I recommend over the X30, by the way), you can use the same link, do a search for the RX100 III, and buy it from there. It would be greatly appreciated!

Alright, then – share your thoughts in a comment. Questions, arguments, whatever you have to share, share them! I’ll get back to you in no time – and I’ll probably review the X30 in full, so stay tuned for that. Until next time

By Heshan Jayakody
All content in this post is my own, except images (from Amazon, cover image from Fujifilm)

Discussion

16 Responses to “Fujifilm X30: First Look”

  1. I enjoy my X20; it’s light and travels well with me on my bicycle. But, for more fun and better IQ, I upgraded to the E-X2 after 6 months. So the X30 is a non-starter for me. Go back to my pre-X20 days, with a Panasonic LX5, and, yes, I’d buy the X30.

    Posted by Andrew | September 2, 2014, 06:54
    • Yeah, I know what you mean. The X20/X30 are great compacts, and for a compact, they take very nice pictures, but if you want serious image quality, you need something a bit better. The only compact camera that takes pictures that can compare with anything is the Sony RX100 (I, II, or III) – some of the pictures on my gallery/500px profile are taken on my RX100!

      Posted by pixelogist | September 2, 2014, 07:23
  2. I have the LX5, which is a capable camera. My only trouble is that many of the commands are “buried” somewhere, and manual shoot is a pain. It is light, and that’s a good point. I was looking to move to Sony RX100M3 or Fuji X100S, before knowing X30. I did have a look at the X20 in the store. I held the X30, turn to open the camera; did a few shots and noted the weight and size will assist me in my coming travel to Turkey; and I was sold. Previously I had the S100fs, which I had been very happy. I passed that on to my brother to use. It was 28-400mm, and it was great! I am eagerly awaiting this X30. I still have my Pentax K7 with an array of lenses.

    Posted by vangogh68 | September 2, 2014, 10:53
    • The LX5 was a nice camera at the time. I haven’t used it much so I can’t comment on the interface and all that. But if you want something around that size, you should definitely check out the RX100 series, either the Mk II or III. Very compact, much better image quality and overall performance, although it’s one of the more pricey compact cameras

      You already checked out the X30? I’m surprised, it’s only being released in mid-October. If you mean you held the X20, then yeah, the X30 should feel very much the same. If you like the extra size/weight, and you don’t need it to fit your pocket, it will be a very significant improvement to your LX5, both in terms of image quality AND usability. Good luck!

      Posted by pixelogist | September 2, 2014, 11:10
  3. I do agree..the x30 appears a bit underwhelming. Maybe it shall remain to be seen how it goes about when being used fulltime but then again, maybe not. It does have the same components of the x20, like you say

    Posted by Brian | September 2, 2014, 20:11
    • Yeah, Brian – it looks to be a very good compact, no doubt about it, but nothing majorly different to a camera that’s well over a year old (the X20). And having used that, and seeing the specs of the X30, I can almost certainly say it’ll perform almost exactly in every way, apart from the few additions: EVF, WiFi, control ring

      Posted by pixelogist | September 3, 2014, 06:59
  4. How much can i buy this for? Is the X20 price gonna come down because of it? Good time to get an X20!

    Also, it’s cheaper than the RX100 2 and 3, right?

    Posted by Johan | September 3, 2014, 17:08
    • I think the X30’s pre-order and starting price is $599 – which was the cost of the X20 when it was new. I’m not sure what the new price of the X20 is, but it’ll probably go down to around $499-549. It’s definitely cheaper than the RX100 II or III, which go for $648 and $798 respectively 🙂

      Posted by pixelogist | September 4, 2014, 10:06
  5. the settings wheel in front of the lens is cool! i think i would really like that. like the powershot or lumix lx7..but maybe it will be difficult to use with two rings in there??

    Posted by Hersch | September 4, 2014, 10:01
    • It does look very useful. I doubt it’d get in the way of the manual zoom rings. Most traditional lenses have two rings around it. I realize the X30 has a much smaller lens, of course – but I think they would’ve designed it cleverly enough. I trust Fujifilm gets the design right, they always do!

      But yeah, I can’t be sure till I try it out

      Posted by pixelogist | September 4, 2014, 10:10
  6. I had hoped for a sensor upgrade. The X20 has a very good sensor of course, and I have taken some photos that look very good, but the RX100 has that 1 inch sensor which takes much better pictures, better depth of field, and of course less noise

    Now Fuji is behind par

    Posted by Derek | September 5, 2014, 09:10
    • Indeed! I was hoping for a new (larger) sensor too. The RX100’s 1″ sensor is definitely superior, mostly due to its size – double that of the X20. It’s better in terms of DOF and noise control, for sure, and all this leads to better images

      But the RX100 (II and III) is significantly more expensive – that’s a key factor for some. $600 vs $750-800. If you want the best, it’s going to cost you. If you want to save a couple of hundred bucks, the Fujifilm is a good option

      But you’re definitely right – as an upgrade, the same X20 sensor is a bit disappointing in the X30. If you’re thinking of saving money and not going for the Sony, you might as well save a bit more and get the X20

      Posted by pixelogist | September 5, 2014, 09:33
  7. What I think is that Fuji has got a good grip on what the majority wants in a camera, and they are going along with that, no matter what. Is it correct? No idea. But people love the design that makes it seem like they have almost something like a SLR, and of course it takes nice pictures, so they’ll buy a new one. Kinda like the iPhone, hahaha

    Posted by Dustin McCain | September 8, 2014, 10:06
    • You do have a point 🙂 It’s the design that people really go for these days, and the X-series is probably the best in this sense. It does take great pictures too – I guess Fujifilm has realized they don’t need to do much more than what they did with the awesome X20. Their fan base isn’t quite Apple-like (!) but I get what you mean

      I hope this isn’t a trend though. Fujifilm has revived itself with a lot of innovation, and that’s what the X-series is all about. They need to keep it up !

      Posted by pixelogist | September 8, 2014, 10:36

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