Fujifilm X30. / by Othman Kammah

Disclaimer: This hands-on preview was done with a pre-release sample of the X30 running pre-release firmware. Things may change before it is officially released.

Well the cat's out of the bag... Fujifilm finally introduced the first of its third generation X Series cameras.
And boy is it ever an exciting glimpse at what's ahead.

 

The Fujifilm X30 is an upgrade to its predecessor, the X20. I say upgrade because thats just what it is. An incremental release to the X20 but with all that Fuji has learned in its other X Series cameras.

A departure?

Lots of people complained that, when Fuji launched the X-T1, they had departed too far from the original design language and ethos. The Retro-styled rangefinder was no more, and the SLR-chic look is what was now "in".
Don't take me wrong, the X-T1 is a beautiful piece of kit, and if anything, this design change was a brilliant marketing move by Fuji. The DSLR toting market was intrigued and more than ever, Pros began considering the Fujifilm lineup.

Of course it had as much to do with design and ergonomics as it did with feature set.
The X-T1 introduced some great features to the X Series cameras such as intervalometer shooting, Wi-Fi remote, but it also allowed Fuji to show the world that EVFs were now so good that people couldn't use that as an excuse to stick to their DSLRs anymore.

The X30 is the latest camera by Fujifilm and the first one to release in the post X-T1 era.
To say that the X-T1 changed things for Fuji would be the understatement of the year. And it's very clear the second you hold the X30. 

Just like the X-T1 before it, the X30 stirs away from the original retro styling for a little bit of modern.

The X30 body is sleeker, sharper, and despite being a bit bigger and slightly heavier, it feels a lot more comfortable to hold. According to Fuji, this was meant to accommodate the much larger battery (it now uses the same one as the X100 series).
It also feels a lot more rugged thanks to its magnesium alloy build. Hold it next to an X-Pro 1 (which, to me, is the gold standard for Fujifilm X Series) and you would be hard pressed to see a (big) difference. The camera is solid, and everything feels the way it should be.

Speaking of everything, the X30 has a lot of buttons, not too many though, just enough to get the job done without having to deep dive into menus.
The other thing I appreciated is that, finally, it seems we now have somewhat of a standard between the X-T1 and X30 (let's keep that going Fuji yeah?).

Buttons on the top and the right side, large tilty-flippy (thanks Kai) on the left side.
Yes, you read that right, the X30 also inherited its bigger cousin's flip screen.
And it's a beautiful one that will be a joy to use for long exposure photography, low to the ground shots, or stealthy street photography.


But the star of the show here isn't the screen...
Gone is the not-so-great Optical Viewfinder that lived on the X10 and X20; which felt like a viewfinder for the sake of one IMHO.
The X30 now sports a beautiful Electronic Viewfinder (2.36 million dot resolution, 0.65x magnification, and display time lag of 0.005 seconds), which — while not quite as great as the one found on the X-T1 is still very pleasing to look through and a HUGE improvement over the X20.


Another key improvement is the inclusion of what Fuji calls the new control ring.

Located just behind the zoom ring, this second ring allows you to control things like your aperture while in Manual mode while the shutter speed is controlled by the dial on the back of the camera.

Speaking of that dial, because of the size of the X30 — and maybe the size of my thumbs — I found myself switching settings by accidentally hitting it while holding the camera.
Minor quirk, and one that could be limited to a very small set of users. It is, however, very comfortable to hold and use one-handed.

Another thing I didn't like about the X30, and this could very well be due to the pre-release nature of both the hardware and firmware, was how long it took to wake from sleep. I ended up having to make sure to keep it awake while walking around so as to not miss a shot.
This is something that I'm sure Fuji is aware of, and will probably fix before it's even released to the public.

A look at the future...

At the beginning of this preview, I mentioned that I thought the X30 was "an exciting glimpse at what's ahead".
I could explain what I meant but it has been mentioned on the web already, and so I will simply quote an eloquent and wonderful X Photographer and good friend:

But what’s most interesting about this release is how it sheds light on the road ahead: there are a lot of super nice improvements; important improvements that could eventually (fingers crossed) trickle up/down to other bodies: spot metering is no longer confined to centre (it now meters from any selected AF point), exposure compensation in manual mode in conjunction with Auto ISO, a dedicated raw mode for the EVF that bypasses the JPEG engine, stratospheric improvements to movie mode (that list alone goes on and on), a customizable Q Menu (YAY!!) etc…
— Patrick Laroque.

Samples and Conclusion...

During actual use, the X30 felt small (though not pocketable), fast to focus, and the newly added control ring was extremely useful in manual mode. I also love the new Chrome film simulation mode.

The tracking continuous focus also worked great, although with a smaller sensor than its bigger cousins, I expected things to stay in focus which they did.
Check out this pup running full speed:

 

This is a great purchase for people that are looking for a small, Swiss Army knife of a camera with good image quality and a very versatile set of features.
In today's world, it is the most feature complete X Series camera available and also one of the more affordable ones (thanks to its smaller sensor

For me personally, the X30's size was too close to an X100 and I will always take a prime lens over a zoom lens. Although I will say, that this particular lens was extremely versatile and definitely fun to use, and that's what it's about.

The X30 did, however, make me all the more excited about the prospect of a future X series camera... And if we are to believe what's being said on the internet, a cup of T will soon be in order.

As always you can pre-order the Fujifilm X30 from my good friends over at Aden Camera.
Canadian pre-orders even get a free extra battery and wall charger (the X30 comes with a usb cable to charge in-body...).