Fujifilm FinePix F30
If you’re looking for some sign on the Fuji F30’s all-metal body for how many megapixels it has, you’d better look closely. The camera’s respectable 6.3-megapixel imaging capability is discreetly etched along the Fuji F30’s front grip which is, of course, covered by your finger every time you take a picture. Even the little green and white promotional sticker Fujifilm has placed on the camera highlighting its most important features doesn’t say how many pixels the camera has. Just a few short years ago this sort of approach would have been downright bizarre. Back then, everyone knew that megapixels meant imaging power, and the more you had the better. So if your camera came equipped with a fine 6.3MP Super CCD HR, like the Fuji F30 has, you put that information front and center on the camera for all the world to see.
Times have changed, though, and 6.3MP Super CCDs don’t impress like they used to. With consumers now all too familiar with the perils of putting so much emphasis on pixel power, manufacturers have had to re-tune their camera’s bells and whistles to attract savvy buyers considering an upgrade. In the case of the F30, Fujifilm is pushing the camera’s extraordinary low-light shooting potential. Fujifilm is not alone in taking this tack. Several manufacturers have been emphasizing the expanded light sensitivity of their compact cameras with their ability to reduce blur thanks to new image stabilizer technology. (See my review of the, for example.) The Fuji F30 ups the ante, however, by offering an eye-popping light sensitivity rating of up to ISO 3200 equivalent, a level not even seen on many digital SLR cameras; and as of this review, not on any competing compact digital cameras on the market. According to Fujifilm, the camera’s “sixth generation Super CCD sensor” produces a lot less “noise” (i.e. that fuzzy stuff you see in some digital images) than its predecessor, especially when shooting a higher ISO settings.
But does the Fuji F30’s ramped up light sensitivity and added features like Picture Stabilization technology, and an “intelligent” I-Flash — all of which Fuji has marketed under the umbrella rubric of Real Photo Technology — add up to better pictures? Read on and find out if there really is life beyond megapixels.
Fuji FinePix F30 User Report
Luxurious Finish. Though the Fuji F30 isn’t the thinnest camera on the market in this compact category, its dimensions of 3.6 x 2.2 x 1.1 inches (92.7 x 56.7 x 27.8mm) make it small enough to slide into a bag or coat pocket and take along anywhere.
While from a distance the camera might look like a rather ordinary silver box, on closer inspection you’ll notice the Fuji F30’s luxurious curved finish, with the smooth, dark silver of the camera’s metal frontplate locking into the lighter silver matte back section. Priced at just under $400 list, the Fuji F30 is on the high end of the market and the camera’s stylish accents and sleek details let you know you have a luxury product.
One of the small touches I appreciated were the seven raised rubber bumps on the back of the camera below the zoom rocker which serve as a comfortable thumb grip with a nice tactile feel.
With an xD-Picture Card and its rather large proprietary rechargeable lithium-ion battery, the Fuji F30 weighs a substantial (but not quite hefty) 6.77 ounces (192 grams). There’s a reason for the jumbo sized battery. According to CIPA ratings, the Fuji F30 can capture an impressive 580 pictures when this little brick is fully charged, which is a big plus if you’re shooting out in the woods, for example, without access to an electrical outlet. The extra weight also gives the camera good balance, which helps keep it steady during shooting.
Controls are placed logically, with the shutter, mode dial and power button on the top and the zoom rocker and various function buttons and four-way controller on back. The mode dial really could have been bigger, though, considering that there are six choices, including movie mode, that look clumped together on the small dial.
The Fuji F30’s LCD screen is excellent, measuring 2.5 inches with 230,000 pixels of resolution, which renders sharp live preview and decent playback. Fuji’s gone to lengths to have the LCD work well in a variety of lighting conditions with the display quickly adjusting its brightness in low light. The screen was made using Fuji’s CV Film, which is designed to reduce glare and smudges. It was successful on both counts — easy to use even in rather bright midday light and relatively smudge-resistant even when used with greasy fingers. (It’s been a rather humid month here in New York City.) Since the Fuji F30’s 2.5-inch display dominates most of the rear of the camera since there is no optical viewfinder on this model.
Very Responsive. As befitting a higher-end compact camera, the Fuji F30 was a very responsive all-around performer. Press the power button and it’s ready to take its first shot in a lightning quick 1.7 seconds. The camera shuts down fast too, at just 1.6 seconds. The F30 switches nimbly from playback mode to image record in 0.5 seconds with just a tap of the shutter button. The camera was a little slow going the other way though, taking 4.4 seconds, according to our findings, to display a large/fine resolution image file immediately after capture. Shutter lag on the wide end of the zoom was short at just 0.56 second and a split second shorter on the telephoto end. When the Fuji F30 is prefocused, we found it took just 0.018 second till capture. The camera performed great shot to shot as well, taking just 1.96 seconds per shot in Large Fine JPEG capture. In Continuous Mode the camera could rattle off a Large Fine- JPEG picture every 2.02 seconds, or 0.5 frames per second. Overall, the F30’s speed was just fine for me. Although I’ve tried cameras in this class that were slightly faster in certain areas, the F30 with its RP Processor II imaging engine was quick and reliable.