What is the Fujifilm X-T30?
Fujifilm’s X-series are a family of APS-C mirrorless cameras that mix charming retro design with powerful stills and video skills.
The X-T30 is the range’s new middle child and arguably its sweet spot, given that it replaces the X-T20, Fujifilm’s best-selling X-series camera ever.
While it’s not significantly bigger or heavier than a premium compact camera, the X-T30 does pack in Fujifilm’s signature manual dials and virtually the same specs as the bulkier Fujifilm X-T3, which also benefits from compatibility with Fuji’s excellent range of X Mount lenses.
In fact, aside from marginally inferior burst shooting and video performance, it’s like an X-T3 that’s been blasted by a Shrink Ray.
So is it a better bet than the likes of Sony’s new A6400 or Canon’s EOS M50 for shooting smartphone-beating snaps and unleashing your creative genius? I spent an enjoyable three hours with one at its London launch event to find out.
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Fujifilm X-T30 – Design
Trying to tell the Fujifilm X-T20 and X-T30 apart is like playing ‘spot the difference’ on hard mode.
There’s one big physical change from the X-T20, plus and a few minor ones. It might not sound much, but the X-T30’s new joystick (which replaces its predecessor’s d-pad) feels like a big improvement. On the X-T20, moving your autofocus point around the frame was a tad laborious, not to mention tricky with your eye to the viewfinder, so that little nib felt like a boon in my short time with the X-T30.
The joystick is a bit lower than on the X-T3, and it does mean there are fewer buttons on the back for you to customise, but on balance it’s a good thing for the overall shooting experience.
Elsewhere, Fujifilm has tweaked the shape of the thumb grip to help make it more balanced with longer lenses (I was only able to try it with shorter ones, so that’s still up for debate). The touchscreen is also now 1.3mm thinner, to help increase the gap to the EVF. You’re still better off disabling the touchscreen when using the viewfinder, though, to avoid accidental cheek shots.
The only real disappointment is that this touchscreen doesn’t have the same fully articulating mechanism as the one on the Fujifilm X-T100, which means it can’t flip round the front. If you’re a vlogger looking to shoot lots of video to camera, then something like the Canon EOS M50 still looks like a better bet.
But otherwise the X-T30 is a joyous combination of retro tactility and portability. Like the X-T20, it’s difficult to think of a better learner camera for picking up the photographic basics – tweaking its physical dials really helps to drum in the effect of changing your aperture or exposure compensation. Whether you like the retro flourishes or not, it’s just a real joy to shoot with.
That said, those who are coming from DSLRs and need dedicated dials for ISO and drive modes (which are lacking on the X-T30) will feel more at home on the more spacious, weather-sealed X-T3.
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Fujifilm X-T30 – Features
The most impressive thing about the X-T30 is that it packs in the same sensor and processing engine as the X-T3, which we described in September 2018 as “pound for pound the best mirrorless camera you can buy” (a statement that arguably stills hold true).
That means you get a 26.1-megapixel X Trans CMOS 4 sensor, with phase detection pixels spread across the entire frame. Fujifilm claims this sensor processes four times the AF data as the previous generation version seen in the X-T20 – the reality is that its autofocus is that bit faster and more reliable in both single point AF and when tracking objects in continuous AF. I couldn’t test this extensively, but it did seem to be a step up from my X-T20.
Strangely, the X-T30 actually has some superior autofocus features compared to the pricier X-T3 – at least for the next month or so. That’s because it runs Fujifilm’s latest firmware, which will be coming to its bigger brother in April 2019.
This brings improved face- and eye-tracking, with the box highlighting the face or eye acting with more confidence and less jitter. If there are several faces in the frame, you can also choose which one to focus on using the touchscreen or joystick. The X-T30 doesn’t yet have Animal Eye AF or object tracking seen in the likes of the Sony A6400, but that’s a much-needed improvement over the X-T20 for those who like to lean heavily on autofocus modes.
From my brief time with the X-T30, the autofocus was very impressive, particularly for a camera this small. You do miss out on the X-T3’s superior viewfinder, whose higher magnification and resolution makes it easier to spot focusing issues, but it was quick to lock onto birds in flight in tracking mode a London roof terrace.
Does the X-T30 have any glaring omissions? Some might bemoan the lack of in-built image stabilisation (IBIS), though neither the Canon EOS M50 or pricier Sony A6400 have this. Many X Mount lenses also have have built-in OIS to help with handheld shooting.
It does fall very slightly short of the X-T3 in a couple of areas. It can manage a decent 8fps in continuous shooting with the mechanical shutter, though the X-T3 trumps it here with 11fps for shooting fast-moving objects. The X-T30 does, though, match its impressive ability to rattle off images at 30fps (effectively video frame rate) when using the electronic shutter.
It’s also not quite as powerful as the X-T3 when it comes to shooting video. The X-T30 can shoot oversampled 4K video at 30fps, but can’t match the X-T3’s ability to shoot at 60fps or record 10-bit 4:2:0 video internally (it’s limited to 8-bit here).
This is splitting hairs for most people, though, and in every other department the X-T30 should perform very much like a mini X-T3. In fact, in terms of autofocus, it’ll actually have the edge until the latter gets a firmware update in April 2019. Even their battery lives are almost identical, with the X-T30 rated at 380 shots, only ten fewer than its bigger brother.
We’ll be able to confirm whether there are any other noticeable differences when we get one in for review very soon.
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Fujifilm X-T30 – Image and video quality
It’s too early to for us to rate the X-T30’s image quality, as we were only able to shoot on a pre-production sample. But here are some early JPEGs to give you a flavour of some of its film simulations, which are the same of those found on the X-T3.
As you can see, the X-T30 is a versatile camera that really comes into its own when you pair it with a small prime lens like the XF 35mm f/2. This makes it a fine run-and-gun camera for street photography or travel snapping. We’ll give you our full verdict on its image quality when we get one in for review before its launch on 20 March 2019.
- Price: £849 (body only), £899 (with XC 15-45mm lens), £1,199 (with XF 18-55mm lens)
- Release date: 20 March 2019 (Black and Silver versions), Charcoal Silver (May 2019)
- Further info: Fujifilm UK
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