Cameras

Have I found my ultimate camera?

A couple of years ago, I started – and completed – a 365 project. I not only took a picture everyday for a year, I also wrote a daily blog to accompany those pictures. You can still read it here if you’re interested.

Any photographer who has completed a 365 project will draw different conclusions from the process. It taught me to see photographs everywhere I looked, it confirmed that photography is the greatest hobby/job on earth and it also made me realise that I didn’t have a true ‘go anywhere and everywhere’ camera. My 365 was completed using a variety of different bits of kit. Some Fujifilm, some not – I just tended to shoot with what I had handy. And that annoyed the hell out of me.

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Impressive sharpness at a higher ISO. 1/45sec at f/4, ISO 1600

Ever since then, I’ve been looking for a camera that can accompany me everywhere I go; a camera that I can have a relationship with, a camera that I can learn to use intuitively, a camera that if I spend enough time with it I’ll know exactly how it’s going to perform in any given situation. Stop me if this is sounding a bit weird.

That ideal camera isn’t a DSLR or a CSC (too big), it isn’t the X100S either (I’m just not that disciplined), but every since I was handed an X30 a couple of weeks ago, I’ve had the feeling that my search is over. It’s early days, of course, we’re still in the honeymoon period, but after three weeks of carrying Fujifilm’s latest premium zoom compact everywhere with me, here are three things I love about my new magnesium-bodied mate…

1) The viewfinder
We all like the Real Time viewfinder in the X-T1, right? Well the X30 has got one too and it’s just as good. OK, it’s not as big, but the detail is there, the pre-visualisation of camera functions is there and the orientation sensor is there – no matter which way you hold the camera, the shooting information stays at the bottom of the frame. Some detractors have suggested that the lack of optical viewfinder makes the front of the camera look slabby and ugly. They’re wrong.

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Great vibrancy on the greens. 1/150sec at f/3.2, ISO 400

2) The customisation
One of very few failings of the X100S is the fact that there’s only one customisable function button, the same issue afflicted the X10 and X20. But the X30 has six buttons that can have functions re-assigned. Not only that, there’s also a Control Ring around the zoom barrel that has further customisable functionality. This is a great move. I don’t use Wi-Fi very often, so that button has been re-assigned to control the ISO instead. I’ve done the same with other buttons, although I have occasionally forgotten what I’ve assigned to what. This is down to my advancing years, nothing more.

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Wide maximum aperture makes it easy to focus attention on certain parts of the frame. 1/75sec at f/2.8, ISO 400

3) The picture quality
The X30 doesn’t need a one-inch sensor. ⅔-inch does just fine. That 28-112mm lens is lovely and sharp, too and gives me just the right amount of framing versatility. It’s an X100S for lazy people, sort of.

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Impressive macro, great colours. 1/50sec at f/2.8, ISO 400

Only time will tell if the X30 is going to be my ideal camera, whether we’re going to walk off into the sunset, hand in (much larger) handgrip, but in the early stages of our relationship, I have to admit that we’re getting on famously. It could be the one…

6 replies »

  1. I own a Fuji X100S and I am planning to buy either the X-E2 (power and versatility) or the X30 (versatility and price). But most likely, the X30 will win since it’s compact and it will not require me to bring different lenses. The dealbreaker is the sensor size since I like shooting in low light. I’m still unsure if this camera would do wonders in low light though.

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    • I have taken thousands of shots with the x20. It’s a great little, versatile camera but definitely not a tool for high iso photography (ISO 400+). Image noise gets clearly visible from ISO 400 upwards.

      The images in this post are apparently raws that have been manipulated with lightroom. I wish FUJI would be honest and state that clearly. I consider the dog image at ISO 1600 a FAKE.
      All the official image samples are at ISO 100/200, guess why.
      I commend to read Zack Arias blog about Fuji cameras and lenses…

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  2. Hi there,

    Nice to read a casual article that also explains the ‘niceness & likeability’ of the Fujifilm X30. To share my enthusiasm, I have taken my X30 to Tokyo for two weeks (it arrived only a few days before the trip) and I absolutely loved it. Why I chose to buy this camera is the size/grip of the camera, the quality and range of the lens, the video of 60 FPS (is more detail also when watching), the control ring and the easy intuitive use of the manual zoom. And after thousands of shot in many different settings I am really attached to it.

    Photography
    – It is a not too big camera so it doesn’t scare people when you point it at them, it has an retro friendly charm and it works 🙂
    – There are a lot of bells and whistles, but if you want to stick to the aperture you can shoot fast and beautiful pictures very easily
    – The combination of a fast light lens, the manual zoom and the control ring (set to aperture) really makes this camera shine, wonderful result and a real sense of ‘DSLR type of control’
    – Made lots of pictures in Tokyo in the evening and they are great. The dynamic range is enough to have lots of detail in shadows and still have all the evening lights and neon radiating of detail and colour. Playing with the shutter speed combined with a self created automatic ISO adjustment range makes it easy to have some awesome blurry shots of cars through the neon lit streets. This camera makes you want to play with these kind of settings, because the results you can really create the images you have envisioned in your mind
    – The automatic switching of EVF and LCD screen is perfect. Sometimes the camerastrap blocked the sensors (that senses your eye at the viewfinder) when you are viewing your LCD screen and it switch to the EVF. But once you realize that, it won’t happen again.
    – Colours and contrast are good. Perfectly adjustable by creating your own profiles, so that works very well.
    – Be-au-ti-ful bokeh! Perfect circles, the film-ish character brings tears to my eyes.
    – With a fast autofocus (only the darkest areas are troublesome sometimes, but which camera is perfect) and with a fast card you can shoot everything you see like breeze.
    – I wanted a Sony RX100 III, but that’s just too small for my hands. The X30 is perfect and it fits in my pocket or a small camera bag or hang around my neck without it annoying me at any time.

    Video is also wonderful:
    – he stabilizer works like a treat,
    – the auto light correction works in small steps so is sometimes visible when switching from dark to light areas but it’s nothing to cry about
    – the video with 60 fps is super smooth and detailed (even on the Shibuya crossing in the evening with 100’s of people walking)

    Three major irritations
    – You have to take the cap off each time you want to shoot. And you have to put it in your pocket and I always forget where I put it 😦 So when you are walking around on your citytrip, you often leave it off, because you want to be ready to shoot at any second. So the cap is not the safest solution, because it exposes the lens (add a UV filter lens!). But an automatically closing/opening cap would be a great addition. To add to this; it’s a nice feature that when you rotate the manual zoom the camera is ready-to-go. So it’s a ‘one action intuitive’ proces to take your camera and point/zoom/shoot/ready.
    – Fujifilm has separated the ISO settings between photograph and video. To have the highest quality possible I often set the video to the lowest ISO (100). Because video uses ‘fast shutter speeds’ (especially at 60 fps) the image is darker than photography in evening settings, so I guess that’s why they chose to do this so you don’t have to switch all the time if you constantly switch between shooting pictures and video. But in reality you are happily shooting photo’s and when you start to film you begin to notice it’s too dark and realize you have to go into the settings to change the ISO of the video. So, best solution is to assign a function button. To be fair, there is an easy solution, set it to ‘Auto’, but still 😉
    – Focussing while filming… The Fuji does that, but as most camera’s it’s not 100%, especially when you have just started filming an it starts out of focus. What I do is just focussing in photo mode and start filming. You can do manual focus, but then you have to switch the focus switch each time when you are filming. You can probably set the ring to rotate to focus, but I still have to figure out how I can do that. This should have been an intuitive process and it isn’t.

    A minor annoyance is the linking of the camera to my iPhone. The connection process just doesn’t feel fast and smooth, even though it does work. So again, you have to get a feel for it and then you get used to it. And also, the panorama feature works, but it’s not fantastic. My iPhone 6 has a much better feel to it for example. Nice added feature is that you can make vertical panorama’s though.

    About noise; personally I don’t care too much about a little noise. I don’t print pictures anymore, I always view them on my 27″ iMac which is beautiful and I am sure when I print enlarged pictures the noise will be no issue. And I could have spend more money and have less noise, but it is more important if a camera grows on you and doesn’t get in the way of the flow of your way of shooting. Fortunately the X30 does just that and I haven’t even tried every feature there is, so it still has nice trickery to master. My personal opinion is that any picture that evokes an emotion is not harmed by any technical issues. What does help is to create more emotion is good framing, good depth of field, control of light and dynamics. And the X30 really helps you with that.

    Hope this helps readers to in their choice of camera, and hope my explanation gives an idea for what type of photographers the X30 is ment for.

    ED

    (Sorry if my English is not 100%, I am from The Netherlands)

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  3. Been shooting with Frank my X30 since earlier this year and 90% of the images on my blog are taken with him and Fred (My X10) before that. The X30 always amazes me with its capabilities and I’m very happy with the images it takes. I think its bigger siblings get all the attention on the various X blogs and websites but the little compact certainly deserves its moment in the spotlight too.

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  4. Wonderful piece ! In film I shot with an Nikon F3 and a Leica M-3 doublestroke. This little x30 is digital bliss…..light (relatively), small, and packed with useful features as opposed to so much of the photo-treacle that digital camera manufacturers market. Went to Paris a few years back with an X10, which i sadly lost a year later. Thouogh I thoroughly enjoyed the X10 and got many wonderful frames, the x30 is an exponential upgrade.

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