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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Fujifilm FinePix F30

Fuji Digital Cameras

   


Fujifilm FinePix F30 Review

Review Date: Jul 24, 2006

Category: Beginner Amateur

Fujifilm FinePix F30

Photoxels Editor's Choice 2006 DIWA Awards Fujifilm F30 wins DIWA Platinum Award

USER'S EXPERIENCE

Friday, Jul 7, 2006 - Here's what I receive in the box:

  • FinePix F30
  • No memory card [Fujifilm sent me a 256MB xD-Picture Card for the review]
  • Li-ion Battery NP-95 3.6V 1800mAh
  • AC Power Adapter AC-5VC with Power Cord
  • Hand Strap
  • USB and A/V Cables
  • Documentation (English & French): QuickStart; Owner's Manual
  • Software CD: Software for FinePix CX Version 5.2b for Windows and Macintosh

Currently, the Fujifilm FinePix F30 may be the best compact digital camera for general and low-light photography. It simply allows you to capture exceptional quality low-light shots to ISO 400, with the added bonus of going as high as ISO 3200.

Granted, at ISO 3200, the images viewed at 100% size look like watercolour paintings. But at 4x6 in. prints, and displayed for web size -- as most P&S pictures are viewed -- I find them more than acceptable. I took pictures without flash in low light situations that my other digital camera just could not handle.

Does this mean that you can hand-hold low-light shots without worrying about camera shake or subject motion at all? Putting aside all marketing claims to the contrary, the simple answer is, Not quite. Take a look at the low-light shots in the Fujifilm F30 Photo Gallery and you'll see many shots that another non-dSLR digital camera just will not be able to take. However, I made sure I rested the Fujifilm F30 on a solid surface at all times, used the self-timer sometimes, braced myself to prevent camera shake, and took lots of pictures. But, you already knew to do all that, right? Notwithstanding, in performance and low-light capability, the FinePix F30 comes closest to a digital SLR than any other digital camera in its class.

[The Fujifilm F30 is joined at the top of this list by the newly announced Fujifilm F20 and Fujifilm S6000fd, which also share the same 6th Generation Super CCD HR image sensor.]

The Fujifilm F30 improves on the award-winning FinePix F10 with:

  1. Even better low-light capability, offering ISO 3200 (though losing ISO 80).
  2. A beautiful extra large 2.5-in. LCD monitor with double the resolution.
  3. Two new shooting modes: Aperture-Priority AE and Shutter-Priority AE.
  4. A new Anti-Blur or "Picture Stabilization" shooting mode selects a high ISO and fast shutter speed to help reduce blurring caused by subject movement.

On the performance front, the FinePix F30 is fast at startup, has no practical shutter lag, and the battery lasts forever.

Of special note is that the battery gives a fantastic 580 shots per charge (CIPA Standard)! No anemic 100-200 shots here, though you do have to wait approx. 4 hours to fully charge it. It's well worth the wait for now, at last, you don't have to worry about running out of battery power during your shooting session. I took the FinePix F30 to Disney and shot pictures all day, leaving the camera on for long periods to ensure I can catch a shot fast. [If you've seen someone acting very strangely at Disney Florida taking the same shot with 2 different compact digital cameras, that was me.]

The LCD monitor is one of the most beautiful I've used, with 230,000 pixels resolution, and a very effective anti-glare coating that makes for easy viewing even in bright sunlight, and gain-up in low-light. This is how all LCD monitors should be built.

The Fujifilm F30 comes with an AC Power Adapter, which means that you can plug the camera in when you come back from a day's shoot, and immediately start transferring images to your PC without having to recharge the battery first.

Good news! The Terminal Adapter that was separate in the F10 [some folks just hated that!] is now back into the F30 body proper, without the latter gaining any extra size and weight.

The FinePix F30 has 2 rows of non-slip rubber dots on the back for the thumb rest, and these considerably improve the safety factor of the camera.

The Fujifilm F30's audience will undoubtedly still be mainly the Point-and-Shoot (P&S) and beginner amateur photographers. However, more advanced amateur photographers will welcome the additional manual control provided by the new Aperture-Priority AE and Shutter-Priority AE shooting mode.

I use the Fujifilm F30 almost exclusively in the M mode, which is more akin to Programmed AE mode, where you can select ISO, WB, etc.

Selecting Long Exposure is a bit more long-winded than it should, in my opinion: you must first enable it in SETUP [why not just default it to ON, folks?]; then, set shooting mode to SP and select Night scene mode; a press of the Exposure Compensation button to engage the feature; press LEFT and RIGHT ARROW keys to select a shutter speed between 1 and 15 sec.; press the Exposure Compensation button again to set the selected shutter speed. This Long Exposure feature is also present in other digital cameras and require similar contortions to set. Someone should be able to reprogram the firmware to allow a selection of LONG EXPOSURE on the Mode Dial without having to go through all that rigmarole [M-W Dictionary, 2nd definition] to select a long shutter speed.

Trompe-l'oeil (mural illusion) at Disney MGM Studios
Trompe-l'oeil (mural illusion) at Disney MGM Studios

FinePixViewer

I mentioned this before in other Fujifilm reviews: I simply love the FinePixViewer software because all the information is contained in one screen. Each image's filename is clearly visible and you do not need to launch another window to view the EXIF info. You can easily run a full-screen slide show. There is (still) some valuable screen real estate wasted along the rightmost column with the "Register Now" ad. You can do basic image editing, re: Auto adjust, Manual adjust (Brightness, Saturation, Hue, Contrast), Sepia/B&W, Sharp/Soft, Correct Red-Eye. I used the ImageMixer Movie Editor to easily extract 10 sec. clips for the movie samples.

The Fujifilm F30 Owner's Manual is well illustrated and written, though more cross-indexing between the Camera Parts and actual content would be helpful.

I found The Fujifilm FinePix F30 especially hard to part with. Besides its exceptional low-light capability, high performance, beautiful LCD monitor, and great battery life, it is also a pleasure to use and operate, giving excellent image quality shot after shot with point-and-shoot simplicity. I like the availability of long exposures as well as the additional manual control in the Aperture-Priority AE and Shutter-Priority AE shooting mode. Do yourself a favour and check it out before you decide on a new compact digital camera.

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