Saturday, October 25, 2014

Fujifilm X-30: Small But Powerful Enthusiast P&S. Can it keep up with the competition? Does it have to?

Fujifilm X-30 @ 50mm equiv. 1/250th sec, f/6.4 @ ISO 200 with EF-X20 flash @ 1/8 power



When I first heard about the new X-30, I was a bit hesitant. Did I want to review it? When I finally got my hands on it, I liked it immediately. It wasn't about image size or if it had an optical or electronic viewfinder. It was about how it felt in my hands. This camera makes you want to shoot with it, period. It feels like a compact X-100 series camera with a zoom. It's solid build quality and ergonomics makes me want to run out and start taking pictures immediately. 

There has been much talk about the smallish 2/3" sensor that is no longer considered large compared to the 1/1.7" sensor that was the previous standard in most enthusiast point-and-shoot cameras. Canon and Sony have 1" sensors, and now Panasonic has leap-frogged everyone by going M43 with the latest LX100. Can the X-30 keep up in this very competitive enthusiast market? Does it have to? Let's take a look and see what this camera can do...

Fujifilm X-30 @ 35mm equiv. 1/250th sec f/4 @ ISO 400. Classic Chrome jpeg.



Let's start by going over the PRO's and CON's with the X-30. Although there's lots to like about the 3rd generation X compact camera, the sensor size will be the biggest issue that most enthusiasts will have. I know because I was one of them. OK, let's start:

PROS

-solid build quality (although the camera is no longer made in Japan. Made in China)
-well balanced ergonomics according to the size of camera. Well-placed and solid buttons and dials
-very nice EVF (class leading. Better than the RX-100 mrk III and Panasonic LX-100)
-high resolution articulating screen (although I found I used the EVF more for street photos)
-manual zoom improves speed, accuracy (no step zoom), and saves on battery life
-larger NP-95 battery for 400+ shots per charge (same battery as the X-100 series)
-improved menus and functions. Customize Q-button icons. More custom functions added
-wireless controller and ad hoc wifi transfer. Perfect for social media-grammers
-no buttons on left side of LCD screen! Major functions accessible with right hand
-additional control ring behind the zoom ring. Easily customizable as well

CONS

-no image quality improvements (exact same sensor and processor from X-20)
-2/3" sensor now considered small compared to competition
-high quality lens cap (same style as X-100) but difficult to store while shooting
-on/off switch should not be built onto the zoom ring. It should be near shutter button

As you can see, overall I really liked shooting with the X-30. The only real gripe I had was with the on/off switch. The sensor size is really a personal choice. I didn't find the resolution too low for what I was using it for, and actually prefer smaller sensors for street photography because of the advantage of gaining extra depth of field (more in-focus images). 


Fujifilm X-30 @ 85mm equiv. 1/160th sec f/5.6 @ ISO 200.




The camera is not pocketable, but just big enough for an enthusiast to take it everywhere without feeling the weight. It's not so small that buttons and functions are becoming difficult to execute (think Canon S120), but not so big that you feel you're dragging around a brick all day (think Canon 5D). Coupled with a smartphone or a tablet, the X-30 can take high resolution images that's more than enough for all those Instagrammers, bloggers, journalists, etc. We'll get into image quality a bit later, but let's look at some of the features that make this camera worth your consideration.

EVF: excellent 

Is the EVF on the X-30 going to blow you away? Nope. However, for a $599 USD camera, it's better than all of its competition, including cameras that are approaching the $1000 price point. The refresh rate is decent, low light performance is above average, it has a built in diopter and eye sensor. It also includes focus peaking (white, red, blue) and the super cool vertical info feature that first appeared on the Fujifilm X-T1 (I demonstrate this on my quick review video here). I actually liked the optical viewfinder (OVF) of the X-10/X-20, but I like the electronic viewfinder (EVF) better (and I'm an OVF fan!). I liked it so much that I rarely used the LCD. Maybe it's because it works well with the manual zoom, or maybe because it reminded me of using the larger X-series cameras. This leads to the other feature I really like about the X-30: the operating software and functions


Fujifilm X-30 @ 28mm equiv. 1/800th sec f/5.6 @ ISO 800. Classic Chrome JPEG



OS and Functions: the best

I'll say it: the X-30 is the best functioning Fujifilm X series camera. It felt like a combination of the X-T1, X-E2 and the X-100S into a single, compact camera, and still had improved upon features. The X-30 can:

-customize the Q-button icons in menu mode (first X series to have this) 
-vertical EVF info mode, focus peaking (red, blue, white) 
-21 custom function button options, including flash exp comp ( X-T1 only has 17)
-no buttons on left side of LCD and shifting the DRIVE button within reach of your thumb
-rear dial with push-button input feature and front button and front dial around lens barrel for quicker access to menu items and features (superior to X-100S, X-E2, X-T1
-full wifi controller (same as X-T1, but superior to X-E2's viewer only)

Since I've recently reviewed the X-T1, X-E2 and the X-100S, I can say that the X-30 is the most functional and refined OS X-series camera to date. Yes, much of the updates can be a firmware update to the rest of the cameras, and most of these features are also available on the soon-to-be-released X-100T; but the X-30 is the most advanced and matured X-series camera to date... but also with the smallest sensor! Ok, we'll talk about that later. Let's just say that if you're a Fujifilm X-series shooter, you will be delighted shooting with the X-30. It's everything the X-100S should have been, and everything that the X-T1 will have in the next firmware update. In fact, I'll go as far as to say that shooting blind, the X-30 buttons and layout feels better than the X-T1 (flush buttons) or the X-100S (weird rotating wheel on back). It's equal to the X-E2 in feel, but the button layout and the menus are superior on the X-30.

Other 'KAIZEN' Updates: small but significant 

A bigger battery and a higher resolution and articulating screen isn't going to change the world, but often it's the small things that makes a camera great. The X-30 now uses the NP 95 battery, the same as the X-100 series. The X-30 has a new 3" 920K LCD screen, versus the old X-20 (and X-100S) 2.8" 460K screen. The addition of the control ring, focus peaking, more film filters (Classic Chrome), and more customization isn't going to blow people's minds like Sony's super innovative pop-up EVF on the new RX-100 mrk III. Sony wows people with innovation every time they come out with a new camera, and that's ok. Fuji rarely does (except when the X-100 and X-T1 were first released). They believe in the Japanese philosophy of Kaizen, or smaller, incremental improvements. That's what the X-30 is, an incremental upgrade to the X-20. Should it have been called the X-20S? Probably not, because the addition of the EVF and articulating LCD screen merits a generation jump. However, because of this one nagging issue, I can see why some were disappointed with this camera. Yes, the sensor.

2/3" Sensor: too small?

Can the 2/3" sensor be considered too small in the enthusiast compact camera market? Yes and no. When I first started the review, I thought this would be a big deal for me. It wasn't. If you're spending $700+, then most expect a larger sensor, such as the Sony RX-100, Canon G7 X, Panasonic LX100. If you're spending less than $500, then the 1/1.7" CMOS sensor is still good enough, such as the Canon S120 and G16, Panasonic LF1 and LX-7, Nikon P340 and P780. 

The Fujifilm X-30 is unique in the marketplace with the 2/3" CMOS sensor. I don't think there's another current model that uses this size sensor, although this was a very popular size 8 -10 years ago. In terms of size, it's between the 1/1.7" and the 1" (here's a size comparison), and in terms of price it is also right in the middle ($300-500 for the 1/1.7" sensored cameras, and $700-800 for the latest 1" sensored cameras). The price for the X-30 is very fair for what you get within the scope of the market place. The image quality is also competent, especially with Fuji's unique X-trans sensor and really unique film simulation jpegs.


Fujfifilm X-30 @ 28mm equiv. 1/250th f/2.5 @ ISO 800. Classic Chrome JPEG.

Is the image quality good enough for an enthusiast? If you're all about sensor size and top resolution, then the answer is no. Go and buy a full frame Sony A7 series camera, which many pixel peeping nerds have done (I haven't... yet). If you're about a balance of image quality, ergonomics and functions, pricing and style (yes, how a camera looks and feels motivates and inspires us to shoot), then the X-30 is a great balance. If your images aren't going to be blown up beyond 11 x 14, or you're not a working pro with certain client needs (although even then, I argue that most clients don't know what they need), then the X-30 works. I would say that even smartphone cameras with 1/3.2" sensors (4.54mm x 3.42mm= 15.53mm square) can take amazing pictures, even for commercial work (I have done commercial work using only my iPhone 5S).

I do wish that Fuji did at least tweak the sensor a bit (better high iso performance) or the processor (faster RAW processing), but my guess is that this is the last iteration of this lens-sensor combo. The next X-40 camera will most likely have a 1" X-trans sensor (they can't just buy Sony's sensor like Canon did), which means a new matching lens. 

CLASSIC CHROME and FILM FILTERS: digital film 

Fujifilm X-30 @ 50mm equiv. 1/2000th sec f/5.6 @ ISO 200. Classic Chrome JPEG


For those of us that actually shot professionally in the film days (for me it was the 1990's), we became very aware of how certain films looked for whatever application we were using it for. For me, weddings was Kodak Portra 160 and 400NC, sports was Fuji Superia 800, nature was Fujifilm Velvia, and travel was Kodachrome 64. For print film, even the paper that it was printed on made a difference on how the image looked. It was this combination of film and paper (and the photo machine operator or darkroom artist) that decided how the final image looked like. The photographer had very little say on how much contrast, saturation or any type of filtration-look that the final image had. The manufacturer and the photo lab made most of these decisions for us. 

When photographers today talk about shooting without filters, or shooting pure images without any post processing, I think they are applying an old philosophy that is out of place in modern photography. If you shoot RAW, you're always modifying the final output of the image. As well, JPEGS are modern day equivalent to film, with predetermined contrast, saturation, colour balance, etc. For some, to modify it means that you're somehow breaking some unwritten rule of not altering the manufacturer's suggested look. I think that's just silly. 


Film Simulation Comparison. Standard (Provia film) on the left, Classic Chrome (Kodachrome) to the right


With modern digital photography, the power is in our hands to create our own film, our own look, our own style. I think JPEGS and post-processing is the greatest tool that has been given to the modern photographer, and Fujifilm is leading the pack with film simulation JPEGS. Classic Chrome mimics the look of the Kodakchrome, which wasn't a true slide film (E-6), but a black and white positive film with colour dyes added. I loved shooting Kodachrome (and so did famous local street photographer Fred Herzog) and shooting the Fujifilm JPEG Classic Chrome brought back great memories. No it's not exactly like Kodachrome, but shooting in the rain or on a cloudy day, I loved the way it muted the shadow areas and cast a grey look to the overall image while still maintaining a decent colour punch (especially yellows and reds). The beauty of shooting digital film is that we're not stuck in a single ISO. I can shoot Classic Chrome from ISO 100 to a usable 1600, and same as Velvia (it was an ISO 50 slide film back in the day).

For the sake of this review, I was shooting in film simulation bracketing mode (Provia, Classic Chrome, Monochrome), although this mode does not allow you to shoot RAW at the same time. Too bad. I like Fuji's JPEGs, and find it difficult to take advantage of RAW while still maintaining a certain film simulation look at the same time.


CONCLUSION: a worthy compact enthusiast camera

I've had the Fujifilm X-30 for almost a month. Like most of my review cameras, I spend more time shooting than most reviewers, who often have it for just a few days, or sometimes hours (with pre-release cameras). I really get to see how a camera performs after multiple battery charges, multiple memory cards, different situations and lighting conditions. As a camera nerd, I always have a camera with me, even if I'm just going to the grocery store. The X-30 is a weird size camera in that it's not an EDC (every day carry) for me. I like more compact cameras like the Ricoh GR series, the Canon S series, or even my iPhone. 

However, if I need a powerful-enough camera for work (real estate agent, media photographer, blogger, insurance, etc.) and need a fast zoom (it's still f/2.2 at 50mm equiv), and need ad hoc wifi connection, the X-30 has it all. In fact, for my social media commercial work, this camera is perfect. I can easily shoot high quality jpegs or RAW images, I have a decent range of focal lengths, and it connects easily and quickly to my smartphone. 


Fujifilm X-30 @ 50mm equiv. 1/1000th sec f/3.6 @ ISO 400. Provia JPEG.


If you're already a Fujifilm X-series shooter, but you want a light-weight backup to your ILC (interchangeable lens camera), the X-30 is very intuitive. You can shoot this camera with your eyes closed. It feels like what the X-100S should operate, but smaller, lighter, and with a zoom lens. At this point, the X-30 is actually a more powerful and functional camera than the X-100S except for the sensor size. In fact, this camera has one up on every Fuji camera previous to it. This is what Fuji is counting on to win the hearts of existing X-series photographers. The X-trans sensor has a unique look, and even your post processing workflow will be very similar to your other X-trans equipped cameras. Again, this is an easy choice for existing Fujifilm shooters as a small backup camera.  

How about if you already own an X-E2 or X-T1, but now you want a compact camera and are looking at the bigger sensored rivals (Sony RX-100, Canon G7X, Panasonic LX100, etc.)? Why consider the 2/3" sensored X-30? There's more to a camera than sensor size. Have you played with the Sony menu's before? Have you seen Canon's oversaturated jpegs? You know both the Sony RX-100 mrk III and Canon's G7X don't have a hotshoe right? Have you held these cameras in your hand? They are solid, but they're very tiny and ergonomics are a bit odd. It's fine as a point and shoot, but there's no meat to these cameras. 


Fujifilm X-30 @ 50mm equiv. 1/120th sec f/4 @ ISO 200. Provia JPEG


I'm not picking a fight with these other great compact enthusiast cameras. Everyone knows I love shooting with my Ricoh GR-D IV and I loved my Panasonic LX-3. Each brand has strengths and weaknesses. All I'm saying is that it can't just be about sensor size. If it was, why is the Olympus OM-D EM5 and EM1 with a tiny M43 sensor doing so well against the Sony A7 series with full-frame sensors? If it was about sensor size, shouldn't any M43 or APS-C sensor camera be considered inferior? 

Another point: have you seen the second hand price of the older Ricoh GR-D IV? This tiny sensored camera (1/1.7" CCD) has become a cult classic among street photographers because of its great ergonomics, functions, customization and amazingly film-like monochrome JPEGS. In fact, I still get lots of hits on this review even now, and people are always asking me if I want to sell it. The answer is no! At the same time, what's happened to the Canon G1X mrk I and it's huge 1.5" sensor (bigger than M43)? I reviewed it. Amazing and huge files, but it couldn't rely on just image and sensor size to win over the enthusiasts. Sensor size isn't everything.    


Fujifilm X-30 @ 50mm equiv. 1/1000th sec f/8 @ ISO 200. Provia JPEG


The Fujifilm X-10 and X-20 hava become cult cameras in its own right, not unlike the Ricoh GR series. Is the X-30 a worthy successor to the X-20? A definite yes. The overall improvements are great, even though the sensor and lens is exactly the same. If you have an X-10 or the X-20, is it worth the upgrade? If you're looking for an image quality upgrade, then the answer is no. It's exactly the same (slight difference with the X-10 and the first gen X-trans sensor and processor). However, if you're looking for a refinement in operation, functions, ergonomics, and a class leading EVF, then this camera is worth considering. 

If you don't already have a compact camera companion to your larger system camera, or are thinking of upgrading your older camera, is the X-30 a good investment? Depends on what you're looking for, but I would say that the price is fair for what you get in terms of image resolution and features. It also has a class leading EVF, ergonomics and functions, a fast and high quality lens, and fully loaded with features, many of which I didn't review (panoramic modes, portrait with soft background, toy filters, full 1080 HD @ 60fps, etc.). I would recommend to go down to your nearest camera shop and play with it in your hands. I am a strong believer in ergonomics. If you don't like holding it, you probably won't shoot with it. You can stare at specs all day and order online from B&H or Amazon without actually playing with it. I've known guys (yes, it's usually us nerdy guys who only focus on specs and not ergonomics) who order a Canon 5D or Nikon DF, only to return it after realizing they don't like the shooting 'feel' (usually upgrading from a smaller sensor camera).


X-30 @ 112mm. 1/750th f/4.5 @ ISO 200. Classic Chrome
My final thoughts on the X-30? It's in an odd spot in the market. It's not fun being in the middle of the pack, in terms of price and sensor size. Will those who don't mind the smaller 1/1.7" stretch their budget to get the X-30? Will those who don't mind spending $800-1000 lower their sensor size expectations to get a better handling camera? As I mentioned in my video, if the sales on the X-30 is slower than expected, I recommend to Fuji that they throw in the lens hood and filter adaptor, and perhaps even bundle it with the super awesome EF-X20 flash. Everything about the camera is great, and my only real complaint (sensor size was a concern, not a complaint) is the on/off switch on the zoom barrel. It's not even a real switch anyway. You can hit the play button on the X-30 and you can preview images, and also connect to the wireless controller software while in this mode. What happens next? If you go to shooting mode (with the zoom barrel at the off position), you can actually see through the lens, albeit out of focus. So the on/off switch isn't real. I know this because I have the new Fujifilm X-100T with me and guess what? You can't press the play button to turn on the camera when the main on/off switch is in the off mode. That's a real switch. 

iPhone 5S picture. Semi-compact X-30 with compact EF-X20 flash.
As mentioned in my video review (more than once), the on/off switch on the X-30 should be like all the other X series cameras and have it around the shutter button. This is the most logical spot. The main advantage for this is because of the manual zoom lens on the X-30. I like shooting at 35mm or 50 while on the street. Unlike all of its other competition, the X-30 can be manually left at any particular focal length. If the on/off switch wasn't attached to the zoom barrel, you can even turn the X-30 off and leave the zoom at any given focal length. Then, when you're ready to shoot, turn on the camera, and it's already sitting and waiting at your preferred focal length. This also allows you to turn the camera on/off with just your right hand, no need to use your left hand. This two handed on/off is irritating, especially when shooting in the rain, or if you have your hands full (maybe take-out food or a bag of groceries!). Another small complaint is the high quality all aluminum lens cap, similar to the one of the X-100 series. It feels nice, but it's hard to store while shooting. If you put it in your pocket with your smart phone, you risk scratching the phone's screen. If you store it with your keys, your keys will scratch the metal. If you put it in your back pocket and sit on it by accident, your bum hurts (I've done this many times). There's no place to store the lens cap! I just left it at home. Buy the lens hood with the built in 52mm filter thread, and buy a regular plastic lens cap. Easy to store, stays on secure, and it's cheap to replace if lost or broken. 

My conclusion is that the X-30 has a quirky place in the market place, but it has its place. We'll see how the holiday shopping season plays out, especially with Canon's G7X and Panasonic's LX100. I think even Sony is probably worried about these two cameras, as the RX100 mrk III sits right in the middle of the price range of these two very competent cameras. Fuji is at the very bottom of the 'larger' sensored cameras, although I argue it has the best ergonomics and unique features (manual zoom, hot shoe, long batter life). I had a good time shooting with it, and if you're an X-10 or X-20 user, you'll love the upgrades. If you're a Fuji X shooter, you'll also love the familiarity of the controls and menus, but also the refined operation over every other X series camera (except the X-100T) at this time.

Check out my full video review on the X-30 on YouTube as well, and let me know if you have any questions or comments below. I currently have the new X-100T and so far so good. Feels a lot like the X-30, minus the zoom lens! A first impressions video and post is coming shortly. Happy shooting!



BHT


Fujifilm X-30 @ 85mm equiv. 1/850th sec f/3.2 @ ISO 400. Provia JPEG




37 comments:

  1. Nice, lengthy review with beautiful pictures BHT! From my understanding you'll be reviewing the X100T soon and given your prior experience with the X100 series, how well would the X100T complement the X-30? Low light photography etc.

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    1. Thanks for your comment. I appreciate it. I get high hits on my reviews, but not many comments. Yes, I have the new X-100T right now and I think the refinements are fantastic. Depending on your photographic needs, I don't know if the X-30 complements the X-100 series. If you're an interchangeable lens camera (ILC) shooter and want a high quality backup, many choose the X-100 with an APS-C sized sensor. Some who don't mind a smaller back-up, the X-30 is also a good choice.

      However, if the X-100T is your main camera to shoot serious work, and you need a compact backup, the X-30 is a good choice. Because it has a zoom lens, it isn't just about a smaller-lighter backup, but a camera that can take different types of pictures. For me, having a non-ILC as a main camera isn't odd. At this time, my Ricoh GR is my main serious shooting camera. I use it for some of my commerical jobs, and even use it to do official group portraits.

      If you shoot Fuji, and you want continuity when it comes to jpeg style, the X-30 is a great back-up choice to any Fuji ILC or non-ILC APS-C camera. It also helps that it uses the same wifi app to control both cameras as well.

      Thanks again for your comment and question. Happy shooting!

      BHT

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    2. Thanks for your advice BHT!

      I'm currently shooting street and travel photos with a Nikon D5000 with Nikkor 35mm DX and felt the weight of the equipment in a hiking trip a few months back.

      I bought a X-30 and I'm loving the ergonomics and controls for a P&S! So I'm thinking of switching from the D5000 to a X-100T for my main camera since I'm basically using a prime/fixed lens setup. X-100T is certainly appealing me with the MUCH smaller size and weight!

      Cheers,
      Dave

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    3. Hi Dave,

      The advantage of shooting mirrorless is basically size and weight, not price point or AF speed. The Fujifilm X-100 series is a great camera, even for those who shoot interchangeable lens mirrorless. I just posted my first impressions of the new X-100T and so far so good. If you have the X-30 and the X-100 series camera, you're pretty much ready to rock! Thanks for sharing your story and happy shooting!

      BHT

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    4. Hi BHT,

      Looking forward to your full review of the X-100T! To be honest, the price point of X100T is pushing me towards the X100S instead :/

      Perhaps you could include this point in your review? Just my 2 cents!

      Shall wait for your review before I make a decision!

      Cheers,
      Dave

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    5. Hi Dave,

      Good point about price difference. For me, the $200 price point is worth the upgrade, based on the improvements. However, once the firmware update is applied to the X-100 and X-100S, the difference won't be as noticeable. The inclusion of the mini-EVF window in the OVF mode is the biggest reason to buy the new X-100T, but if you don't shoot in OVF mode often, there's no point.

      I did notice the new T seems to 'wake up' from sleep mode much quicker than the older S. Include the upgrade in the position of 2 major buttons (Q-button and Drive button) and a full control wheel on the back, it's a much faster shooting camera. Wi-fi controller is also a huge feature for those who need to shoot and upload to a smartphone or tablet quickly.

      I'll include all this in my full review.

      Thanks for your questions and comments Dave!

      BHT

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  2. I really appreciate your review. I have had an x30 for about 2 weeks now and am still undecided as to whether I like it or not. Certainly, it is a fun, take anywhere camera which is what I was looking for. My only quibble with your review is that I find the on switch to actually be kind of convenient. You can turn it on and turn to the desired focal length in one step.
    On a more serious note, I am finding the camera has a serious tendency to overexpose. At 0 EC, images are overexposed and highlights almost completely blown. I have to underexpose by 1/3 to a full stop and the problem is more severe when taking black and white. I usually shoot in aperture priority but have compared with the program mode. The problem is still present in program mode, and while histograms are similar but not exact, it does not seem to overexpose quite as much in program. Blue skies are frequently white and washed out. Along with having to set EP to minus 1/3 to minus 1 (or more!) I have had to pay very careful attention to the histogram but even with an apparent good distribution of tones, a good result is not guaranteed. Also, what you see on the screen (not the EVF) is not remotely representative of the image when seen on the computer. The screen is good for composing in some situations but other wise not too useful. Has anyone else had a similar problem? Any thoughts? I am still working with this camera every day, trying to come to love it.Thanks again for your review.
    Paul Baker

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    1. Hi Paul,

      Thanks for your comment and opinions. I like the on-off switch separate because all point and shoot zooms collapses when you turn off the camera (except for the Leica X-Vario, but I know it's a stretch to call it a point-and-shoot). The advantage of having a real zoom is being able to leave it at a specific focal length and alway be ready. However, I come from film SLRs, so I have my preferences, and so do you. I actually liked the on-off and zoom switch on the Fujifilm XF1, but for some reason didn't like it on the X30, perhaps because its a bigger camera... who knows...

      As for the over exposing, I noticed that only when I shot in the multi segment metering. One quick fix is to adjust the brightness of the LCD, which is usually inaccurate anyways (I find that with many Fuji X series cameras). You're right, the EVF is more accurate, but that's why you can control the brightness level separately for the EVF and LCD. Also make sure the auto-brightness is turned off, as this actually messes up the exposure.

      Personally, I like shooting centre-weighted average because it's consistent at analyzing the exposure. It doesn't try and think for me. I know if it's strongly backlit or if there's a bright spot, it's at least 2 stops under exposing. The reverse is true when there's a dark spot. Reflective metering is tricky, and I always test the behaviour of every camera.

      As for black and white, you will typically have more blown out highlights because there's less colour information (for instance, a red sweater looks white in black and white. No colour detail). As a general rule, whien shooting film, we over exposed because highlights were always the darkest and most dense part of the negative and you can always recover detail. Digital is the opposite. Always under expose and you can bring out detail later (especially when shooting raw).

      Have you played with bracketing? Test different metering modes, bracket the images by full stops (for full effect) and compare the look of the EVF and LCD. Dim the LCD to match the results of the EVF since you notice the EVF is more accurate. Then upload to computer and compare the results. Based on what you see on your computer, adjust the brightness of the EVF and/or LCD, and also play with the exposure settings. Some cameras just tend to under or over expose based on the algorithms built into the camera's metering system. I typically shoot all my cameras 1/3 or 1/2 under when I'm in an auto mode (usually aperture priority), no matter what camera I'm shooting.

      Final thought. Perhaps you are trying to get too much dynamic range from the camera? If you email me a picture as an example, I don't mind taking a look. Email me at take@bigheadtaco.com.

      Thanks again for your comment and questions. Sometimes it does take a bit to get use to a new camera. That's why when I review a camera I typically have it for a month or more. I get to shoot with the X100T for almost 2 months, and I'm getting the Leica T again for the 3rd time to review. I know I was getting amazing pictures with the X30 so let's see what's happening.

      Best regards,

      Take Kayo

      BHT

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    2. Thanks so much for your feedback. I have adopted some of your suggestions and am getting much better results. Also, Aperture will now process x30 raw files so I will be able to shoot raw. Eventually, I will transition to Lightroom. I hope to use this camera nearly every day and ultimately move up to the 100T or one of the exchangeable lens cameras in the X series. I look forward to your review of the X100T. Thanks again.
      -Paul Baker

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    3. Thanks Paul. I've been very busy since getting back from Hong Kong. Since getting back I've been handed a few more review cameras, including a mechanical film camera that I'll have to pump out a quick review! Thanks for following!

      Happy shooting!

      BHT

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  3. Hi BHT,

    I just want to be able to take good pictures of my friends engaged in an animated conversation, people going about their work, odds and ends along the way, capture my wifes smile, scenes from the countryside, etc. No technical background but I managed to somehow make the most out of my old canon point and shoot from 4 years ago. Now I feel that I have outgrown it. And I want to be able to take better pictures of the things that I find interesting. Will this camera be a good choice for me? Thanks!

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    1. Hi Namida,

      Thanks for your question. The X30 can do everything you mentioned and more. Really, even a smartphone can do all of the above now. If you check out my Instagram feed, 99% of my posted images are from my iPhone 5S. Yes you need to understand how to take good pictures, and know how to post process your images, but you can get amazing pictures. The X30 is a huge step up from a smartphone, and almost any p&s from 4 years ago. The only thing is the size. As long as you're okay with a large point and shoot. There are smaller cameras in this category, but they are all more expensive. The Sony RX100 and Canon G7X are both good examples of this. But for the price, this camera is a solid choice for an all around powerful enthusiast point and shoot with a good lens, good EVF, solid build quality and good images.

      Thanks for your question.

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  4. BHT, your X30 images are excellent! I think the X10/X20/X30 series of cameras gets a bad rap for it's sensor size but I've seen people produce some amazing images with these little cameras. I've even seen an image from a Fuji X10 blown up to 4 Feet wide for a backlit commercial display and it looked great!

    I really want to get the X30 and the little EF-X20 Flash is a must also!

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    1. Hi Sean,

      Yes, I think people focus too much on sensor size and megapixels, not unlike car guys that just talk about horsepower and torque. How much is enough? The smaller 2/3" sensor is capable for most applications for most people, plus you gain extra depth of field (you can shoot at f/4 and get the same DOF as a full frame sensor shooting at F/16 or there around) or shoot at a lower ISO at an equivalent depth of field.

      In fact, much of my daily street photography is shot using my iPhone 5S on my Instagram account. It's tiny tiny sensor is awesome for depth of field and its compact size means its always with me. No I can't blow it up 4ft large, but I could stitch a group of pictures and do so... also, I always have my Ricoh GR with me just in case I need that special shot!

      Thanks for your comment and happy shooting!

      BHT

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  5. I have been making photos with a Nikon D40+35/1.8 for the past 5 years and am very happy with it. But I feel it is time for new gear so I begged my wife and got CAD $1000 :), and started researching (used or refurbished is fine).

    Having used Nikon SLR for so long, I started with D7100/D7000 but the 2x weight discouraged me and I moved on. D5300 body is the current favourite to replace my D40 but with some $$ still left, I am considering an "EDC" which brings me to this review. The options before I read this: RX100 (1st version), Coolpix A were good but it looks like X30 is better. Thank you for your videos and writing.

    At one point, I was considering using all $1000 on Fuji X100S but the idea of a fixed 35mm wide bothered me. I have not tried any of these yet so if I feel X100S can match D40+35/1.8, I might just go all in and even sell my 35/1.8. You think X100S or X100T would beat D5300+35/1.8 in speed, low light and bokeh?. Thanks.

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    1. Hi Richard,

      Thanks for sharing your dilemma. It's always a personal choice when it comes down to choosing a smaller, compact EDC versus your big and powerful DSLR system camera. How much are you willing to sacrifice in terms of resolution, AF speed, noise, etc. The X100S and X100T probably will compromise the least out of any all-in-one type camera, plus give you extra features and functions that will actually help you get better pictures.

      The first thing is that people equate a technological feature as the primary means to take a better image, which is true often. However, I argue it also makes you a lazier photographer and a slave to technology. I think after you get use to shooting with a rangefinder style camera, and once you get use to shooting single focal length, you actually will become a better photographer.

      If you want to see image quality-noise comparisons, use DPReview's website: http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/fujifilm-x100s/16

      The AF speed on the X100S-X100T is fast for mirrorless, but probably less accurate than many DSLRs that will have multiple cross type focus sensors, especially in low light. However, this is where Fuji's focus scale and manual focus comes into play.

      Bokeh is pretty subjective and I personally don't go out of my way to get shallow depth of field, but the new X100T has an electronic shutter feature that allows you to shoot at f/2.0 even on a bright day so the opportunity to shoot wide open is there (the X100S has the ability to add a digital neutral density filter to also allow less light in without affecting your aperture thus keeping the bokeh effect). Personally I don't like shooting wide open on any lens except for super small sensored point and shoots that allow for reasonable depth of field.

      Personally, I really like the X100S and the X100T, and it is definitely capable to replace your DSLR at half the weight (okay maybe not half) and size. In addition, you have some pretty cool features and functions added on top of it, such as a hybrid viewfinder, Fuji's cool film simulation modes, manual aperture and shutter speed dials, leaf shutter for high flash sync speeds (electronic shutter on X100T), etc.

      Let me know if you have further questions. Thanks again for your question and happy shooting!

      BHT

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  6. I've been lurking in the background soaking up all the critique and praise for this camera. Finally ordered the x30 and received it yesterday - this review gave me the green light :) So far it seems I've made the right choice.

    That sensor on the x30 is fine. I would have marketed the X100's as a "Night and day" compact vs the X30 as a "Daylight" compact. Make sense? You will get stunning images and prints if you work around the X30's limitations - and that I believe is part of the craft of photography.

    For the price Fujifilm has given me something amazing (and beautiful). Yes X100's are great but they come at a price don't they ;). If you're only gripe is low light image quality and you're not on a budget constraint then the option is simple. Buy the better camera.

    But for the rest of us starving photographers looking at our chipped piggy banks and wondering if we should take out a loan as well... then the option is simple. Buy the right camera.

    Anyways. Thank you for the very thoughtful review and looking forward to more!

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    1. Sorry for the late reply as I've been busy on so many smaller but time consuming projects. Yes the X30 is a great camera, especially at its price point. There's always work-arounds with any camera and the X30 is no exception. Great build quality, great ergonomics, great features, good image quality. On my instagram account www.instagram.com/bigheadtaco I primarily use my iPhone 5S. People are usually surprised at the quality of pictures I get from it, but as you said, you learn to make the most of the tool you have in your hand. At times I can get the shot faster and better than those with more expensive cameras because I know my tool well. Have fun with the X30. As you mentioned, the X100 series is great, but at a much much higher price point. I know it's not for everyone!

      Thanks for your comment and happy shooting!!

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  7. Great review! Personally I do not have an issue with the on/off switch. If you want to leave the lens extended to a fixed focal length, just do so. The camera will sleep after a short period of time and wakes up easily by pressing the shutter button halfway. In the interest of full disclosure, I have not done this for an entire day, so I am not sure of the power consumption, but I expect it will not be an issue.

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    1. Thanks for reading my review. Yes you can leave the camera at the focal length you wish to keep and allow it to sleep, but it does waste a lot of battery. Yes the X30's battery has been upgraded, but it will probably still reduce battery life by 20-30% throughout the day or more (depending on your shooting style). Plus, I find that it's faster to turn the camera on and off again versus waiting for it to wake up from sleep mode. I do that with all the Fujifilm cameras. It's a hassle with the X30. To me there is no real advantage of having the on/off switch on the lens. The manual zoom lens is fantastic though, it's the best feature of the camera. I didn't think I would like the camera as much as I did. In fact, I shot 3 videos with it, the most out of all the cameras I've reviewed thus far! Thanks again for commenting. Happy shooting!

      BHT

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  8. Rent an X30!

    Excellent, thoughtful review! I agree that the manual zoom is the killer feature of the X30. It’s responsive while motorized zooms are just annoying: how many times have you zig-zagged back and forth with a motorized zoom, trying to find the best focal length? They’re either too fast or too slow. On the X30, just twist the lens quickly to the setting you want.

    It bothers me when I read about people who buy cameras, keep them for a week or two, then send them back. What happens to these cameras? Are they cleaned up and repackaged? The best solution, and one I recommend strongly, is to RENT the X30 for a week and give it a try. Lensrentals has the X30 for $35US for 4 days, and Borrowlenses (the one I used) has it for $45US for 7 days. Shipping is additional on both. Service was excellent and return was easy.

    So—rent an X30 and try it for yourself!

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    1. Thanks for your comment. Yes, I always encourage people to rent equipment, especially lenses before they buy. There's only so many reviews you can read or YouTube videos to watch. How it feels in your hands and what your expectations are can't be discerned on paper. My guess is returned items are sold as refurbished cameras. B&H has a great return policy and many live in far-off places with no camera store near by so I understand why people do buy and return. I think many who do online review of equipment (especially Apple products) just buy it, do a review, and then return it within the policy period. That's not really a great long term game plan for a serious equipment reviewer. You need to build a good relationship with the manufacturers.

      Thanks again, and yes, rent if you can. Happy shooting!!

      BHT

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  9. Thanks for the thoughtful and realistic review. I jumped from the F31fd and F40fd years ago into the Nikon and Canon camp. I longed though for a Fuji that captured the joy I felt with the F31fd. Well your review helped me make the decision to jump on the X30 and I have to say I couldn't be happier. In the field the EVF and manual controls are a blast, back at the computer screen or tablet I cant stop smiling as I'm amazed at what I get. I have always loved night and low light photos and this really brings that back with the faster lens and good combination of pixels to sensor size. Also this is one cool looking camera that everyone notices... just another perk... Seriously though thanks for the review, I might have missed out on all the fun!

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    1. Sorry for the late reply. Blogger isn't a very good platform for blogs and so I'll eventually switch to Wordpress I'm glad I could help with your buying decision. The X30 is a great little camera, and has awesome accessories too. Thanks for your comment and happy shooting!!

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  10. Until I read your review, I was thinking I would have to buy the Panasonic LX-100, to get the larger sensor size, and access to the 'Leica' lens. But in the UK, it is more than twice the cost of an X30. After reading lots of so-so reviews for months now, I had all but given up on buying the Fuji. I already have an S5, with a Nikon zoom, and large accessory Speedlight flash, and had begun to find it cumbersome, so rarely took it out. I am hoping that the X30 will be more portable, and provide a good user experience. Based on your excellent appraisal, I have now ordered one, and even bearing in mind the limitations, I am looking forward to owning it, and not having paid a fortune to do so.
    Many thanks for your hard work.
    Best wishes from England. Pete.

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    1. Thanks for your comment and I'm glad I helped you with your decision. Yes the X30 is a tank of a camera and has every feature you would want in a sub-compact point-and-shoot except for the smaller sensor. I took its little brother the XQ2 (same sensor and processor) recently to a family vacation (my review on Fujilove on the XQ2 here:www.bit.ly/FujiLoveXQ2) and it took great images. I'm never planning on blowing these pictures up to 20 x 24 size (although I could) nor pixel peep on my huge 40" screen, so the image quality is perfect. Let me know if you have any questions and thanks for commenting. Sorry for the late reply.

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  11. Hi BHT,
    Very good review and really amazing photos (you are sure that those are shot with this camera - kidding).

    You say in a comment to another article about Ricoh GR D IV: "and the macro ability is insane". I think this is exactly what you forgot to test and present about X30. And in my opinion, it is a principal feature of X30. There are a lot of photographers on 500px.com who shoot macro. I would have liked very much to see some photos in this mode, as this is one of my favorite type of photography (see the http link on my user name - see what I do with a silly Coolpix with a 1/2.33" sensor).

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    1. Thanks for the tip, yes the X30 also has good macro. My articles are usually written with the street photographer in mind, but not exclusively. I do forget that sometimes. I also rarely do video tests, although I've started that now on my YouTube channel. Thanks for commenting!

      Happy shooting!

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  12. As has been said repeatedly in comments: thank you for your thoughtful review. I've been reading reading reading about compact cameras (the X-30, the Lumix LX7, Nikon P7800, Sony, RX100, etc. etc.), and have even (gasp!) visited a shop or two, only to walk away with yet more options to ponder rather than narrowing the field. Happily, this review has done just that, and I'll do some A-B comparing of the X-30 and LX7 soon. There's so much in favor of the X-30 (manual zoom, EVF, tilting LCD) I should just buy it already, but the size might be a little much. But that's what a store is for, no?

    Of course, now that I've seen what you can do with an iPhone, I wonder if I should even bother!

    I do have one serious question: when you shoot street, do you ask people's permission before shooting? Is there an etiquette?

    Thanks again for a great review and for sharing your art and knowledge.

    David

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    1. Ah! Just found your Street Shooting 101. Great stuff!

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  13. Love this camera, it's a great step up from the X10 which I had before an unfortunate crushing incident. Been really getting into street photography the last few weeks and the X30 is perfect. It's quiet and with the smaller sensor you get great depth of field without having to stop down too much. Just uploaded some thoughts on street shooting with it on my blog along with some images. I think I'm addicted to street photography now :)

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  14. Hey James thanks for commenting and sorry for my late reply. I'm working on a new website and also focusing a lot of my attention on my YouTube channel. Yes the X30 is a great camera that is under appreciated by those chasing after megapixels. The camera feels great in the hands, the lens is sharp, the EVF is decent for the price point (better than the Sony RX100's or Panasonic's LX100) and the DOF is perfect for street. Thanks for commenting!

    BHT

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  15. I know it has been quite a while since your review, but I am chiming in here because I have recently been looking into a smaller everyday camera to complement my X-pro 1.

    First of all, thanks for your written and video reviews. Both are very informative! I particularly like your point about the pixel peeping nerds out there. Each to their own, of course. However, your comment about a camera being more than just its sensor is, I feel, right on the mark! Anyone who has shot film as a hobby knows that regular film ISO is not that high, normally 400. So the fact that the X30 shoots well up to ISO 800 is more than enough. That and its fast lens means that you can adjust your shots to make sure there is not too much grain.

    I think the point that many people miss, including myself, is there is no such think as the perfect camera. Besides, everybody has different needs. I think the comment you made BHT about how a camera makes you feel, whether it has the power to make you want to shoot it, is important. Yes, I know this may sound "wishy-washy" to some people out there, but it is true. Anybody who has had a big DSLR will know that when you consider how painful it will be to lug it around all day, you end up leaving it at home while you go out with your portable camera. Many people have said to me that its the ability to see and create photos that is key to photography, not the camera, which is a tool after all. But we all like our toys, especially if they offer so many options like the X30. Thanks BHT once again for your review; it finally persuaded me to buy the camera myself.

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    1. Congrats on your X30 purchase. Yes, a camera is just a tool, just like any other craft. If you check out my Instagram account I only use my iPhone, which is probably as blunt of a photographic tool as you can get. Thanks for commenting and sharing.

      BHT

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  16. I just recently picked up the X30, about a week ago. I did a lot of research, including reviews on YouTube by reviewers like yourself, Chris @ The Camera Store and a lot of other reviewers. For the most part all the reviews were positive with only a few negatives. So far I am very happy with the X30, it is big improvement from my FujiFilm HS25EXR which I have been using for the last few years (I still love that camera, it is amazing for wildlife/nature shots, but I wanted something smaller for Street Photography). Thank you for making my decision a lot easier!

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    1. hey Richard, congrats! It's a great little compact point and shoot and I'm glad you're enjoying it. Happy shooting!

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  17. Is X-70 better than X-30? What do you think? Could you make a short comparison between them. Thank you :)

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