Fujifilm X30 Digital Camera Review
Fuji gives other advanced point and shoots a huge mountain to climb.
By the Numbers
Looking at performance data and nothing else, the Fuji X30 is a top-notch performer among advanced compacts. Sharpness is great, color is good, and even noise levels are kept well in check. The X30 isn't a perfect camera, and it has its fair share of issues, but overall this is a rock solid camera.
Color & White Balance
Marking a huge improvement over the X20, Fuji's X30 posts a ∆C 00 saturation error of only 2.6 and an overall saturation of 98% with a custom white balance. This is extremely good for a point and shoot, and just about the level you'd stop noticing big differences in coloration from camera to camera. The option always exists to shoot in RAW and post-process your snaps too, so there's that.
Really, the worst errors are in yellows—which are undersaturated compared to the rest of the color gamut when a shot is properly exposed. That's not too terrible all things considered, but it's something you should be aware of when snapping photos where that might be an issue. Say, for example, a snap of a bed of daffodils or goldenrod.
When left to its own devices, the automatic white balance settings are hit or miss. No camera seems to do well with mitigating incandescent light well, but the X30 just can't handle it at all. In some shots, it'll make your pictures miss the mark by up to 2000 kelvin. Oddly enough, the camera is stellar when it comes to fluorescent lighting and shots that are lit by the sun. In each case, our recorded shots never strayed more than 300 kelvin off the mark—which is laudable for a point and shoot in fluorescent lighting.
With an average sharpness of 1953 LW/PH at MTF50, the Fuji X30 gives its users one heckuva sharp image. Despite the lower pixel count, one of the advantages of an XTrans sensor is that its sub-pixel layout allows it to capture images without the need for an anti-aliasing filter, thereby avoiding an impact on overall sharpness.
Like most point and shoots, the X30 does have a tendency to enhance edges a little bit in order to massage a little more sharpness out of its snaps. In our lab, we recorded an average sharpness overshoot of 11%—substantial, but not unheard-of. Many cameras will do this, and it's definitely not surprising in the least when a point and shoot is the culprit of oversharpening.
So what does that mean for you? Well, generally it just means you'll notice some weird haloing in areas where there's a hard edge. To be honest, though, you're not likely to find it unless you go pixel-peeping, so there's that.
So earlier I mentioned that one of the benefits of an XTrans sensor's sub-pixel layout is that it doesn't really need an AA filter. However, I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention that there are drawbacks to this hardware design philosophy. Nothing really on Fuji's hands, but rather, in how some of the more popular RAW processors handle the job of demosaicing RAW files from the X30's X-Trans sensor's subpixel layout.
Because the sensor does not use the standard 2x2 Bayer subpixel layout, your favorite image editing software has to re-assemble the data it reads in a RAW file in a different way—which can cause loss of data/detail if the correct format isn't coded into the software. For whatever reason, Adobe's Lightroom and Photoshop—the most common software used by photographers—doesn't handle this as well as it maybe should.
In fact, the most common issue is loss of fine detail, but it's also possible to get other demosaicing errors like the zipper effect and false coloring. The last two are super difficult to achieve, but they are possible. In all honesty, you might be better off just shooting in JPEG.
Though there's only so much time in a day to sift through which software you need to get the most out of your shots, many users online swear by something called Iridient Developer. Over a broad range of applications, it seems to handle the X-Trans processing a bit better than most other applications, though I personally cannot vouch for its efficacy. To be honest, many of the improvements are found when pixel-peeping, and not visible to the untrained eye, so it may not be worth your time and money to plunk down the extra coin for what amounts to a redundant image editor.
Video from the X30 is fairly decent, but like many point and shoots, is imperfect. While motion is handled extremely well using the 1080p/60p AVCHD video setting, the camera itself struggles in low light a bit (needing 14 lux to display an image at 50 IRE).
When lighting is ideal, the X30 is able to resolve 625 LP/PH in vertical and horizontal motion. In low light (60 lux), this number falls to 525 LP/PH—not bad, but not great either. In high-frequency patterns, there's significant Moiré interference in video clips, so watch out for bike spokes, shooting video from a car, and other situations where lots of lines move really fast.
Taken at face value, video is handled laudably well, as there are very few artifacting errors and trailing is kept to a minimum with a high framerate. Frequency interference does make an appearance, but that's something that many cameras in this price bracket struggle with—interchangeable lens cameras included.
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