As a hobby or a profession, photography can be a burdensome undertaking. When I left my home this morning on a sunrise architectural shoot, I lugged roughly 100 pounds of gear with me. I ended up using very little– just a camera, a tripod, a flash and an iPad, but I had to have all the other stuff with me. It’s at points like these when photographers lament the days of carrying around a simple, lightweight camera. It’s on this emotion that Fujifilm maintains a very successful business creating professional-grade, compact cameras. Their latest Fujifilm X30 Compact Digital Camera is the next step for compact power, and it has photographers like me (and beginners like I was at one point) very intrigued. Whether it’s used as a pro’s sidearm or a beginner’s first step, it’s quite a powerful little machine.
The Fujifilm X30 Compact Digital Camera is the successor to the X20, a pretty remarkable camera in its own right. Fujifilm refined the feature set of this line by offering a new sensor, improved autofocus speed, a real-time viewfinder and a bump in battery life. It’s intended to be a catch-all for a variety of photographic scenarios from sport to street to studio. Like the other Fujifilm cameras in this line, it’s got professional functionality. It’ll fire a flash unit with the hotshoe on top, it can shoot in fully manual settings, produce data-loaded RAW files and shoot HD video. As I hinted at above, it’s the kind of camera a guy like me can use when he doesn’t want to lug 100 pounds of photo gear along with him. It’ll still have all the functionality I’d be used to if I brought my big boy gear along for the ride.
The new sensor on the Fujifilm X30 is a noteworthy step up for the brand. It is a “large 2/3-inch X-Trans CMOS II sensor”, which isn’t full frame but large enough to produce high quality images even in low light scenarios. What’s most noteworthy is the lack of a low-pass filter. This is something the professional-grade digital cameras have been doing lately. They drop the low-pass filter that provides a little anti-aliasing and increase overall image quality in the process. The first camera to offer this was the Nikon D800e, and now nearly every camera manufacturer offers this on their highest-end cameras. While the 12-megapixel count may not blow the doors off for casual observers, it should be noted that megapixel counts really don’t matter, and the higher numbers really only matter if you’re shooting for large-scale print. Chances are, the images shot on this camera are going to wind up on the web, and 12-megapixels is more than enough to suffice. My advice? Ignore megapixel count and embrace the rest of the offering.
Two other features that the Fujifilm X30 Compact Digital Camera offer are the real-time viewfinder and super fast autofocus. The real-time viewfinder is very important in the field, and if you need to understand why, just pull out your mobile phone. Note the delay between the action in real life and what your phone’s display is showing. That makes it really difficult to get an accurate capture of your subject. Fujifilm reduces the wait time down to nothing, so you can immediately see and capture what you want when you fire the shutter. Second, Fujifilm has matched this real-time viewfinder with a fast-acting autofocus, so that when you press the shutter button, you get an autofocus in milliseconds. Often times, photography can be a quickdraw situation, and this camera is designed to fire on a moment’s notice and capture the subject you want.
There are a few other things to note. First, the Fujifilm X30 is not an interchangeable lens camera. It features a dedicated lens that will get you through most of the scenarios you will bring it to. If you’re worried about that, you can opt for a DSLR instead. Just note that a lot of the people who will be buying the X30 are people that already own DSLRs and want a compact, lightweight solution. Second, this thing shoots great video, and it features some new film emulation technology that will give your video a cinematic feel. Both of these are important to note, and photographers will feel enriched by the video functionality but shouldn’t feel very limited by the dedicated lens.
The Fujifilm X30 Compact Digital Camera will be available soon for $599. My vote? A pretty sweet little compact that will satisfy professionals and be a great introduction for enthusiast shooters.