Fujifilm X-T30 Review
Performance - How well does it take pictures?
Performance starts with image quality, which is the criteria used as the foundation of our digital camera ratings. Ergonomic issues may get in the way, but in the end, image quality counts the most. For an ILC, image quality greatly depends on the lens used. While color, noise, exposure and dynamic-range are properties of a camera, distortion, vignetting and chromatic aberrations are properties of the lens. Sharpness and contrast depend on the weakest link. That is, a camera cannot capture more details than a lens lets through. Conversely, it is quite possible for a lens to transmit more details than a sensor can capture.
Image Noise & Details
Image quality from the Fujifilm X-T30 is excellent and is competitive with modern flagship APS-C digital cameras. The new X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor in this mirrorless received a small 2 MP increase in resolution compared to the X-Trans CMOS III which itself has a 50% jump in resolution compared to the X-Trans CMOS II. While that previous jump was exceptionally impressive, the latest is minor and does not quite match the clean output of third-generation sensors.
The X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor captures images vith virtually no noise from ISO 80 to 400. This sensor can capture the finest details, although the default Noise-Reduction diminishes critical sharpness. This can be adjusted ±4 to taste, with the optimal setting being at -2. ISO 80 is Expanded yet looks just as good as the native ISO 160 sensitivity.
At ISO 800, the smallest amount of noise start appear only when images are shown at their maximum size. For a 26 MP image, this larger than a 24" x 16" print. The only reason this is worth mentioning is that the X-Trans CMOS III sensor on the X-H1 performs even better in this respect. Although this image quality is superb, it slides just below the very best APS-C cameras on the market.
Depending on the Noise-Reduction level chosen, ISO 1600 is either slightly noisier or softer than 800. The impact on image quality and final print sizes at this sensitivity is minimal though. Dynamic-range drops by a tiny amount as the darkest details start being masked by image-noise.
The first notable dip in image quality occurs at ISO 3200. Images taken at that ISO become visibly softer and lose a stop of dynamic-range pushing blacks into dark grey. Noise-Reduction at this level is aggressive and, even tuned down to -4, never stops completely. Colors are remarkably unnaffected and images still capture much fine details. ISO 6400 is both a notch softer and noisier, although mid-sized prints are still completely acceptable. ISO 12800 continues the trend while allowing typical prints to come out nicely.
There is much more image-noise appearing at high Expanded sensitivities. ISO 25600 produces high luminance noise which eats away at details yet manages to maintain color and contrast impresively well. Small prints are entirely possible at this level but not very useful at the maximum ISO 51200 which really obliterates details due to its high amount of noise. In an emergy, it can be passable as subjects are still entirely recognizable.
Sharpness is controllable in 9 levels. The lowest -4 setting is very soft and the highest +4 is certainly oversharpened. The default setting of zero is a tad soft. Pushing it to +1 makes a really nice improvement without any artifacts. At +2, some over-sharpening artifacts appear in extreme conditions yet is probably the ideal level for overall image quality. Anything higher easily shows noticeable sharpening artifacts.
Color & White Balance
Color accuracy of the X-T30 is very good. Hues are realistic with different Film Simulation modes mostly affecting saturation. The standard Provia film exaggerates saturation which can be improved by setting Color to -1. Alternately, using Astia film simulation provides a similar rendition of hues but with somewaht muted colors.
Automatic White-Balance is quite dependable under typical conditions. It handles both natural and artificial lighting well, only leaving the occasional yellow cast under low artificial lighting. Natural light seems to always be rendered correctly, even as light levels drop. The Custom White-Balance option is there for difficult situations and is perfectly accurate.
The Multi-Segment metering system of the X-T30 is reliable and highly consistent, although not as conservative as first-generation X-mount cameras. This which results in brighter images in exchange for occasional over-exposure of small highlights. Large areas are rarely over-exposed except for backlit situations. EC is easy to adjust as needed with immediate feedback shown in the EVF.
This mirrorless camera captures a very wide dynamic-range. At ISO 400, it can double that dynamic-range which is better than most APS-C cameras. At ISO 800, Dynamic-Range can be pushed to 400%, up and until ISO 12800, which gives it a performance that almost matches the class-leading X-Trans CMOS III sensor used in the X-H1.
The Fujfilm X-T30 includes the Dynamic-Range Priority mode introduced on the X-T3. When off, the camera behaves as one normally expects, rendering with all the selected image parameters. When set to Weak or Strong, it locks Dynamic Range, Shadow Tone and Highlight Tone settings. This creates a tone-curve that maps the dynamic-range of the scene to preserve as much detail as possible. The result are much flatter images with generally lower contrast for most scenes.
The most significant new feature of Fujifilm X-T30 is its Hybrid AF system which combines Contrast-Detect and Phase-Detect AF. With 2.1 million Phase-Detection pixels even distributed throughout the entire sensor surface, this mirrorless can focus anywhere. These pixels send phase data to determine the direction and distance that focus needs adjusting by. This allows the camera to focus decisively and accurately.
Using contrast and phase information throughout the sensor, the X-T30 creates a virtual 425-Point Autofocus system. By combining a number pixel and phase sensors, this camera can focus down to -3 EV, which is two stops better than previous generations. Given that AF-points are virtual, they can be resized into small areas or combined into larger ones. The smallest point covers a tiny fraction of the frame that does not overlap any other point. It can be expanded to 6 times larger linearly or combined into areas of 3 different sizes.
The new Hybrid AF system is extremely quick. It locks focus with incredible accuracy, even in dim lighting. Since this is an on-sensor system, it never suffers from front or back focusing issues. Single-shot AF is nearly instant and completely reliable, regardless of the chosen focus point or area.
When Continuous AF is enabled, the X-T30 attempts to keeps focus locked within the selected area. While this can track small changes in subject-distance, the X-T30 does not quite manage to keep up with significant movement, unlike the more powerful X-T3 which shares the same sensor yet fairs better. This camera is not designed for action photography since it also has a shallow buffer and so it cannot capture long continuous bursts. There is no signs of focus stuttering common with Contrast-Detect AF systems. Larger areas give the camera more information and opportunity to lock focus, so AF-C works reliably in Area-Mode compared to Point-Mode.
Manual Focus is performed via a fly-by-wire focus ring on most Fujinon lenses. The sensor uses information gathered for autofocus to show where the camera is manually focused and offers plenty of MF Assist modes such as Electronic Magnification, Focus Peaking and Digital Split Image and Digital Microprism to assist the photographer. These are more complete selection than any camera other than the X-T3. Focus Peaking is highly customizable too with a choice of colors and edge-size.
Fast cameras are generally larger high-end offerings, so it is surprising that the compact X-T30 is actually one of the fastest digital cameras around. This mirrorless responds instantly to every button press and dial turn. Playback mode is very fast and allows to switch between images in an instant. The menu system can be navigated extremely quickly and the joystick can be kept up or down to rapidly scroll between menu options without letting go and pressing again, which is usually necesary with traditional 4-way controllers.
The shutter-lag of the Fujifilm X-T30 is virtually impreceptible. There is a minimal blackout which follows the shutter-release when using the mechanical-shutter. With the electronic one though, there is absolutely no blackout, or sound, which makes it seem like the camera is not doing anything while it could be shooting at up to 20 FPS! It takes a while to get used to shooting without blackout but makes action very easy to follow. The EVF keeps up with movement and refreshes quickly.
Continuous shooting up to 20 FPS is possible at the full 26 MP resolution when in Electronic-Shutter mode. With the mechanical shutter, the maximum continuous speed is 8 FPS which is still good. Enabling Continuous AF slows things to 5 FPS. While these speeds are similar to the flagship X-T3, the X-T30 has a significantly smaller buffer which can handle 32 JPEG images or 17 RAW files. RAW files cannot clear so quickly, so the limit is always 17 or 18 per-burst, yet JPEG images can stretch to 90 images at 8 FPS and becomes unlimited at 5 FPS, provided a UHS-II memory-card is used.
There are 3 Instant Review options: 0.5s, 1.5s and Continuous. When enabled, the timed Instant Review modes are absolutely instantaneous.Too bad images cannot be deleted right there. The Continuous Instant Review mode however shows a small lag, roughly ½s. There must be an implementation difference which loads the image fully in the later yet only a preview otherwise.
The following measurements characterize the performance of the Fujifilm X-T30:
- Power-On: Below ½s without sensor-cleaning. Excllent.
- Power-On to First-Shot: 1 second. Superb.
- Autofocus: ¼s, even in low light. Class-leading.
- Shutter-lag: Immediate with no blackout. Spectacular.
- Shot-to-shot: 1/3s with AF. 1/5s with MF. Excellent.
- Playback: A little less than ½s to enter or exit. Good.
- Power-Off: Under 1s with sensor cleaning. Great.
- Video: Instant. Perfect.
There has never been such a solid all-around performance from a mirrorless digital camera. With the mechanical shutter, there is a short blackout which is very normal. In fully electronic mode, the view is blackout-free and shows no perceptible lag. The AF system is just rock solid and, although it may not be able to track the fastest action, is still faster than the majority of high-end cameras.
Shot-to-shot speed are impressive. One can get at least 3 shots every second with AF enabled and faster in MF mode, assuming you can press the shutter that fast! Even from off, one can fire a shot very quickly. A welcome improvement is that video recording now start instantaneously.
The Fujifilm X-T30 is powered by a small proprietary Lithium-Ion battery which provides 380 shots-per-charge. This is about average and goes down quickly while reviewing images. Another battery is highly recommended not to run out unexpectedly.
Fujifilm managed to produce yet another winner with the X-T30. This compact mirrorless digital camera delivers a performance way above its price by combining superb image-quality and class-leading speed with a rich feature-set and plenty of direct controls. It shares a remarkable 4th-Generation X-Trans CMOS sensor with the flagship X-T3 while costing $600 USD less by ommiting weatherproof construction and using a smaller 2.4 megapixels 0.62X magnification EVF instead of a 3.7 MP one with 0.75X magnification.
Image quality of the X-T30 falls just shy of class-leading due to higher image-noise than previous generation of X-Trans sensors and those used in flagship APS-C DSLR. Dynamic-range though is stellar starting at ISO 800. The metering system is very reliable and consistently produces bright images with little clipping of highlights. It shows excellent color accuracy and its white-balance system renders colors neutral under anything other than dim artificial light.
What this mirrorless gives up in image-quality, it more than makes up for in speed. The X-T30 is always quick and highly responsive. Its hybrid autofocus system is incredible fast thanks to 2.1 million on-sensor Phase-Detection pixels. It locks focus quickly and completely accurately down to -3 EV. Continuous AF is suitable for slow moving subjects but cannot keep up with fast action. Even though it can shooting 26 MP images at 20 FPS, this is not a camera made for action photography and it is not priced like one either.
With some refinements on the back compared to its precessor, the X-T30 is quite efficient to operate. It is rather sturdy and compact for an APS-C camera with dual control-dials. Its EVF is really sharp and shows 100% coverage, although it is not Exposure-Priority outside of Manual mode. It does feature an extremely useful Eye-Start Sensor though. The newly added 8-way joystick makes control focus very quick.
The Fujfilm X-T30 offers a huge number of features, including 9-frame bracketing, focus-braketing, motion panorama, interval-timer and Cinema 4K recording. The only notable ommissions are built-in image-stabilization and weather-resistance. The new Phase-Detect AF system is highly flexible and the camera offers plenty of controls with numerous customization options.
This is mirrorless digital camera provides one of the best values on the market by excelling at both image-quality and speed while remaining compact and efficient to use. Such well-rounded performance is rarely seen and marks the Fujifilm X-T30 as a top camera to considering for prosumers and photography enthusiasts.
Fujifilm X-T30 Highlights
Sensor-Size: 24 x 16mm
Actual size when viewed at 100 DPI
|26 Megapixels Mirrorless||ISO 80-51200|
|Fujifilm X Mount|
|0.39" Built-in EVF 2.4 Megapixels (0.62X)||Full manual controls, including Manual Focus|
|Automatic Eye-Start sensor||Custom white-balance with 2 axis fine-tuning|
|1 Axis Digital Level||Spot-Metering|
|Built-in Dust Reduction||Hot-Shoe|
|20 FPS Drive, 32 Images||Stereo audio input|
|4096x2160 @ 30 FPS Video Recording||Lithium-Ion Battery|
|3" LCD 1 Megapixels||Secure Digital Extended Capacity|
Peak Design Travel Tripod Review
Review of the unique Peak Design Travel Tripod with its own ballhead and the universal ballhead adapter.
Nikon Z-Mount DX Lens Roundup
Review of Nikon Z-Mount lenses for APS-C mirrorless digital cameras. Covers all current Z-mount DX lenses available.
Nikon Z50 Review
The first Nikon APS-C mirrorless is built around a 20 MP BSI-CMOS sensor with ISO 100-204800, 209-Point Phase-Detect AF, 11 FPS Drive and 4K Video capability. Compact body with dual control-dials and 2.4 MP 0.39" EVF with 0.68X magnification, 100% coverage and an Eye-Start Sensor.
Mirrorless Digital Camera Buying Guide 2020
The Mirrorless Digital Camera Buying Guide was fully rewritten for 2020, including all new systems from Nikon, Canon and Leica joined by Panasonic and Sigma. This new extensive 2020 Edition shows in 5 simple steps how to choose a mirrorless camera.
Panasonic Lumix DC-GX9 Review
This highly capable and compact mirrorless ranked as Best Beginner Mirrorless Digital Camera of 2019. Its 20 MP Four-Thirds CMOS sensor with Anti-Alias Filter is pared with 5-axis stabilization to maximize sharpness. Features a tilting 2.8 MP 0.39" EVF with large 0.7X view and Eye-Start sensor in a body with dual control-dials.
Best Digital Cameras of 2019
The Best Cameras of 2019 awarded by Neocamera: Best Travel-Zoom, Best Premium Compact, Best Ultra-Zoom, Best Mirrorless and Best DSLR.
10 Gifts Photographers Will Love
The 2019 gift guide for photographers showcases photography gear that amateur and enthusiasts will enjoy. It is divided into 3 price categories to suit different budgets from $50 to $200 USD.
Sony Alpha A7R IV In-Depth Review
The newest Sony high-resolution mirrorless packs a 61 MP Full-Frame BSI-CMOS sensor on 5-axis Sensor-Shift system. It shoots at 10 FPS, records 4K Ultra-HD video and focuses with a new 567-Point and 425-Area Hybrid AF system with Realtime tracking. This professional-grade camera features a 5.8 MP 0.5" EVF with 0.78X magnification, 100% coverage and an Eye-Start Sensor plus triple control-dials in a weatherproof body. This review shows exactly how the A7R IV performs and compares to top Full-Frame and Medium-Format digital cameras.
Olympus OM-D E-M1X Review
Professional Micro Four-Thirds mirrorless sporting an ultra-high speed 20 MP sensor with 121-Point Phase-Detect AF on a 5-axis image-stabilization system effective to 7-stops. 60 FPS drive with blackout free view on a huge 0.83X magnification 2.4 MP 0.5" EVF. Even a builtin GPS in a dual-grip double dual-control-dial IPX1-rated weatherproof and freezeproof body.
Nikon D3500 Review
The lightest DSLR packs a 24 MP APS-C sensor with ISO 100-25600 sensitivity-range, 5 FPS drive and Full HD video capture. Basic features with simple ergonomics.