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Fujifilm Finepix F30 Digital Camera Review

Fujifilm Finepix F30 test

|  Fujifilm Finepix F30 in Compact Cameras
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With the race for bigger pixel-counts slowing, Fujifilm have turned their attention to reducing image noise at high sensitivities to allow for better quality photos in low-light conditions. In this review, Gary Wolstenholme takes a look at whether the Finepix F30 fears the dark.

Fujifilm Finepix F30Specifications
  • 6.3 megapixel
  • 1/1.7-inch Super CCD HR sensor
  • 10MB Internal memory
  • xD-Picture Card compatible
  • 3x optical zoom lens equivalent to 36 - 108mm on a 35mm camera
  • f/2.8 – f/8 aperture range
  • 5cm macro at wide angle
  • 15 sec. to 1/2000 sec shutter speed range
  • ISO100-3200
  • 2.5inch LCD screen with 230,000 pixels
  • Rechargeable NP-95 Li-ion Battery,
  • AC Power Adapter AC-5VC included
  • Dimensions 92.7mm x 56.7mm x 27.8mm (WxHxD)
  • Weight 155g
  • RRP £279.99
Build and handling
The design of the F30 is chunkier than many other compact digital cameras, probably to accommodate the large lithium-ion battery. The two tone metal finish feels good quality, although the pearlised finish on the front scratches very easily. There is a small fingergrip on the front, to provide a secure grip.

Fujifilm Finepix F30Display screen
The 2.5inch LCD screen is a joy to use. It's clear, sharp, bright and has a great anti-reflective coating, that minimises problems shooting in bright light. If the screen does become difficult to see, pressing up on the control pad brightens the screen temporarily, making it much easier to compose your shot.
There is no histogram display on the F30, which I find essential for checking exposure and the lack of this facility was very frustrating.

Delving into the excellent menu system on the F30 reveals three separate autofocus modes - centre, multi-point and continuous. These three options cover most shooting scenarios, whether it be fast moving subjects, or creative compositions plus it's quick and accurate.

A large lithium-ion battery provides power for the Finepix F30, providing around 400 shots from a full charge. There is no optical viewfinder on this camera, so the screen cannot be disabled whilst shooting to save the battery.

Memory card
The Finepix F30 takes xD cards which fit into a slot beside the battery. The following are write speeds for different Jpeg quality settings when using an Olympus 512MB card.

Quality setting Time taken to write to card
6 megapixel Jpeg Fine 2.8secs
6 megapixel Jpeg Normal 2.1secs

I also timed the delay between shots with this camera in the single shot mode.

Quality setting Shot-to-shot delay
6 megapixel Jpeg Fine 2.72secs
6 megapixel Jpeg Normal 2.50secs

The internal buffer does a good job of soaking up the information, which helps enhance the responsiveness of this camera.

Fujifilm Finepix F30Menu and controls
The control layout is well thought out on the F30, with the zoom control falling just under my thumb, and the shutter release under my index finger. This makes operation with one hand easy enough to be second nature.
On the top an exposure mode control dial provides access to the various modes including - automatic, manual, shutter priority, aperture priority, scene program modes and the high-sensitivity anti-camera-shake mode. I was pleased to see the aperture and shutter priority modes as these give good control of exposure when used in conjunction with exposure compensation.
The menu system is clear and well laid-out, although some functions can take a little while to find at first, such as formatting the card which is buried in the depths of the camera setup menu.

Zoom lens
The F30 comes equipped with a 3x zoom lens, which gives an equivalent angle-of-view of approximately 36-108mm. Zoom operation is quick and doesn't seem to run on after the zoom control is released, making quick composition easy.
One point that baffles me slightly is the dim maximum aperture at the long end of the zoom. For a camera that is sold on its low-light capabilities, having a lens that drops to f/5 (which is two and 2/3rds stops darker than f/2.8 at the wide end) at the long end seems odd. I can only guess that this was to keep the camera compact by reducing the size of the lens. Maybe this will be an aspect Fuji will look to upgrade in future models.

Macro mode
Fujifilm Finepix F30
The macro mode allows you to focus 5cm from your subject, which is close enough for most people.
Fujifilm Finepix F30
A 100% crop of the the shot to the left which shows the level of detail captured.

Image quality
There are two different image quality levels on this camera - Fine and Normal. All images in this review were taken on Fine and at maximum resolution so that I could see what the camera is capable of producing using the typical settings.
Fujifilm Finepix F30
Colours are strong with punchy contrast.
Fujifilm Finepix F30
Flash exposure is accurate, providing even illumination from about 30cm from your subject.
Fujifilm Finepix F30
Fujifilm Finepix F30
The meter has struggled with this difficult backlit subject, choosing to retain all highlight detail.
Fujifilm Finepix F30
Fujifilm Finepix F30
Increasing the exposure by 0.7EV has resulted in a more balanced image.

Fujifilm Finepix F30
This busy scene was taken using a tripod to determine the level of detail this camera can produce.
Fujifilm Finepix F30
A 100% crop of the image shows that this camera reproduces an impressive amount of detail.

Compared to...
Fujifilm Finepix F30
Samsung GX-1S set at ISO200 using Schneider D-Xenon lens set at 18mm, f/16 and six megapixels
Fujifilm Finepix F30
Nikon Coolpix L2, taken using the automatic mode at six megapixels

The image produced by the Fuji is clear and sharp with plenty of detail recorded. The level of detail compares favourably with the budget Nikon Coolpix L2 and the Samsung GX-1S digital SLR.

The following images illustrate the amount of digital noise apparent at each ISO setting.
The image to the right is the full image. The crops below are taken from where the green square is.
Fujifilm Finepix F30
Fujifilm Finepix F30
Fujifilm Finepix F30
Fujifilm Finepix F30
Fujifilm Finepix F30
Fujifilm Finepix F30
Fujifilm Finepix F30

Compared to...
Fujifilm Finepix F30
Fujifilm Finepix F30 at ISO800
Fujifilm Finepix F30
Ricoh Caplio R4 at ISO800
Fujifilm Finepix F30
Samsung GX-1S at ISO800

For a compact digital camera the low level of noise at all sensitivities is stunning, rivalling many SLR cameras. Noise levels are very low up to ISO400. At ISO800 a little more luminance noise shows, but it's still very acceptable. By ISO1600 the noise levels have increased to noticeable levels, but still very low by comparison. The 'landmark' sensitivity of ISO3200 produces acceptable quality with very little chroma noise. I did notice that the colour tends to shift slightly at the maximum sensitivity, but not enough to cause any major problems and the noise that is present is fine, randomly arranged and not brightly coloured, giving a wonderful film-like appearance.

There is no doubt that the Fuji Finepix F30 is a fantastic compact camera. Images are clear, sharp, colourful and the control over digital noise is superb.

Even though I managed to find a couple of oversights with the design, such as the slow maximum aperture at the long end of the zoom and the lack of a histogram display - these points seem trivial when compared to positive features the camera has to offer.

In summary the positive points of the Fujifilm Finepix F30 are:
Fujifilm Finepix F30Great quality at high sensitivities.
Fujifilm Finepix F30Anti-reflective screen.
Fujifilm Finepix F30One-touch screen brightening control.
Fujifilm Finepix F30Image quality.
Fujifilm Finepix F30Control layout.

The negative points:
Fujifilm Finepix F30Dim maximum aperture at the long end of the zoom range.
Fujifilm Finepix F30No histogram display to help gauge correct exposure.

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Photographs taken using the Fujifilm Finepix F30

TykeAl fresco diningUntitledLegs and feet!May the force be with you!'red sky at night...'Evening Sun-Leighton Moss-Lower HideMer de GlaceVeterans of the Airborne Forces at Hardwick Hall todayfootprints in the snow...looking thro' the icicle

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