Fuji Finepix F30 Review
Performance - How well does it take pictures?
The Fuji Finepix F30 presently outdoes every other ultra-compact digital camera in terms of image quality. Compared to the previous champion, the Fuji Finepix F10, the F30 produces images with lower image noise and better exposure accuracy. The 3X optical zoom lens is sharp from corner to corner, just as with the F10 since it is the same lens. Even macro shots remain sharp and without significant distortion. Colors are vibrant and generally accurate although we noticed a few cases where some colors were slightly under-saturated. There is a Chrome color mode which boosts color saturation to produce images with greater consumer appeal. We are glad to see that Fuji has not provided an exaggerated default color rendition. The weakest point of the F30 in terms of image quality is purple fringing which is higher than with the F10 and most competing cameras. Fuji sensors seem to have a higher predisposition to this since this has been a weakness of many of their top cameras. Of course, purple fringing usually occurs near areas of overexposure so it should rarely be intrusive in properly exposed images.
Image noise with the F30 is even more unbelievably low than with the F10. At ISO 400 or below, noise is virtually inexistent. At ISO 800, noise is very fine and barely perceivable when printed at 20"x16" or even larger. At ISO 1600, noise is still quite low but affects fine details in darker areas. Surprisingly the noise at ISO 1600 is comparable to the performance of several DSLR cameras. At ISO 3200, noise is distinctly visible but still fine. We got some ultra-clean 5"x7" prints and some very pleasing 8"x10" prints at ISO 3200. This was so surprising that we tripled checked that the right file was being printed! See our scaled images for examples and our 100% crops for comparing noise levels at all ISO settings.
Another area where the Fuji Finepix F30 does well is in its speed of operations. It starts fast, zooms fast, focuses fast and has very little shutter-lag. Focusing speed and accuracy was very impressive, easily beating competing models, particularly in high-speed mode which tells the camera not to focus closer than 1 meter (3'). The camera's lens moves very fast, even during power up. Given this performance, Fuji once again showed that it is able to produce one of the fastest cameras on the market. On the slower side, shot-to-shot speeds are a little below average and playback speed is just average (although zooming is quite fast). Continuous shooting speed was disappointing, but this is not a DSLR and most small cameras do not do any better either.
The Fuji Finepix F30 is an excellent ultra-compact. With its extremely low-noise images, good lens sharpness, great exposure accuracy, good speed of operation, stellar battery-life, none of its shortcomings can undermine its ability to produce exceptional pictures. The point-and-shoot part of the F30 is easy to use and even the menu system is intuitive. Sure of the advanced functions are fiddly, but this is a 1.1" thick camera with ISO up to 3200! The greatest downside of the F30 is the higher-than-average presence of purple fringing. The remaining downsides are some color under-saturation in default color-mode, poor tripod mount placement and the lack of an optical viewfinder to get better use of the continuous drive modes.
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