Powerful, Affordable Compact Camera
Reviewed by Steve Baczewski
Fujifilm followed up their flagship X-T3 mirrorless camera with the X-T30, a more compact, lighter, and less expensive camera that includes all the key features of its bigger sibling. It uses the same impressive back-illuminated 26.1-megapixel, APS-C sensor with X-Trans CMOS 4 processor, covering 99% of the sensor with phase detection for fast, accurate continuous autofocus. File quality is the same, and the X-T30 includes all the same terrific film simulations, focus stacking, and touchscreen technology as the X-T3. I reviewed the Fujifilm X-T3 in the Photoshop User March 2019 issue, so I’ll try to concentrate mostly on the differences.
After a month of taking pictures with the X-T30, my impression is that Fujifilm has found a sweet spot in size, weight, and handling, and this could be considered the perfect travel camera. It might be more appropriate to compare the X-T30 to its predecessor the X-T20, but after using both cameras, I think that comparing it to the X-T3 is more valuable. Let’s start with price and weight. Body only, the X-T3 is $1,499; the X-T30 is $899. With the battery, the X-T3 weighs 539 g (19 oz.) and the X-T30 383 g (13.5 oz.).
Unlike the X-T3, the X-T30’s metallic body isn’t weatherproof and has a shallow grip that’s inadequate when using longer, heavier lenses. To regain the camera’s balance, I bought an $18 metal thumb grip solution that attaches to the hot shoe. Optional handgrips might be a better solution but that starts to eat away at the weight/size advantage. Disappointingly, both cameras lack built-in image stabilization.
For a small camera, the controls on the X-T30 are well spaced with a logical design aimed at performance. The main exposure controls are on the top: mode dial, shutter speed, and exposure compensation. It includes a popup flash not found on the X-T3. The exposure compensation dial extends to 5 stops and a new switch (not found on the X-T3) puts the camera in full automatic mode for moments when you need to take a shot quickly without fumbling. The top shutter speed is 1/4000 sec (1/8000 sec on the X-T3) with a T shutter setting that lets you adjust the shutter speeds using the rear control dial and extends the shutter range to an impressive 15 minutes.
The X-T30 lacks a dedicated ISO dial, although the ISO range of the two cameras is the same 160–12,800, with extended values down to 80 and up to 51,200. The mechanical burst speed on the X-T30 is 8 fps, but 11 fps on the X-T3; however, the electronic burst speeds are the same for both at 20 fps full-frame and 30 fps with a 1.25 crop factor. Continuous AF works well at high frame bursts. The X-T3 has the better EVF, with a 3.69 million-dot resolution and a magnification of 0.75. The X-T30’s EVF has a resolution of 2.36 million dots with a magnification of 0.62. Using Fujifilm’s “boost mode,” both EVFs have a refresh rate of 100 fps, making continuous viewing without blackouts another big step for a mirrorless camera. Both cameras use the same touch-sensitive technology and LCD resolution; however, the X-T3 articulates both horizontally and vertically, while the X-T30 articulates only horizontally.
The X-T3 has two memory card slots using the faster UHS-II cards. The X-T30 has a single SD card slot that uses slower UHS-I cards. Like the X-T3, the X-T30 is highly customizable; however, the X-T30 doesn’t have the X-T3’s four-way navigation pad, but uses an eight-direction lever for moving the focus point and scrolling the menus. This leaves the X-T30 with 9 programmable buttons while the X-T3 has 13. Both cameras have a programmable quick-access menu. The touch-sensitive LCD lets you move the focus point, trigger the shutter and, in playback, lets you swipe to the next image, as well as letting you use your fingers to enlarge and navigate images, which is more spontaneous and intuitive.
If you’re a videographer, the X-T30 takes a slight hit shooting 4K at 30p rather than the X-T3’s 60p, and for only 10 minutes at a time rather than the 20 minutes of the X-T3. But, the X-T30 is close to having your cake and eating it, too! ■