Fujifilm’s X-T series has been refreshed, but does this new arrival hit the sweet spot of what enthusiasts want for under £1,000? Michael Topham finds out
Fujifilm X-T30 Review: Performance
One of the main attractions of Fujifilm’s double-digit X-T series cameras is that they offer a comparable performance to the company’s more advanced single-digit X-T models for less money. Indeed, the X-T30 with its fast performing X-Processor is highly versatile when it comes to shooting different subjects and scenarios, proving itself to be just as capable shooting static subjects and landscape scenes as it is portraiture and high-speed action, sport or wildlife.
Just as we witnessed on the X-T3, the wider spread of phase-detection AF pixels combined with quick data processing presents an extremely fast autofocus response. The X-T20 had an evidently snappier AF performance than the X-T10 and the X-T30 improves on the X-T20. One of the claims of the X-T30’s updated AF algorithm is that it focuses faster from far to near or near to far when using phase-detection AF in combination with long telephoto lenses. To test this, I hooked it up to the XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR – a fairly large and weighty zoom (1375g) that must be said handles better with the X-T3 than it does the X-T30.
Using the lens at its long end and focusing between cricket players at difference distances using single-point AF and Zone AF modes resulted in hasty focus lock with absolutely no hesitation. Shooting high-speed sport at 20fps/30fps using the electronic shutter demonstrated how proficient the X-T30 is at focusing on moving subjects and with no viewfinder blackout beyond the first frame it’s possible to keep apace and track fast and erratic subjects whilst the camera continuously shoots.
Users should be aware of the rolling shutter phenomenon though, which can force you back to shooting at 8fps using the mechanical shutter. Those who photograph moving subjects are recommended to explore the AF-C custom settings as they get more experienced with the camera. These let you fine tune how the camera reacts to the way a subject moves within the frame, how fast the subject moves and where in the frame it prioritises the focus. It’s great to see such an advanced feature filter down to the X-T30 and for users to have the option to refine their own custom preset.
Face and eye detection continues to be an area where camera manufacturers strive to make improvements. The tracking performance of face and eye detection on the X-T30 is promised to be twice as good as the X-T20 and a difference is immediately obvious. The camera does a fine job of recognising faces right across the frame in AF-S and AF-C mode, or when recording video.
When there are multiple faces you can use Face Select to select the appropriate person in the scene using the touchscreen or joystick. I was very impressed by Eye Detection too, which is available in AF-C mode and makes focus tracking on eyes in situations that involves movement far easier. A yellow square inside the green face-detection box highlights which eye it’s locked onto and you can tell the camera which eye to focus on, whether it be the left, right or eye that’s closest to camera. It’s more effective at identifying smaller faces in the frame than the X-T20 and those who like to shoot shallow-depth of field portraits will find they’re able to rely on it to find the crucial point of focus.
Using the X-T30 on a short trip to Rome was a great way of finding out how it fares as a travel camera. Being as small as it is it’s easy to shoot discreetly without drawing too much attention to one’s self, with down sampled 3MP images transferring to my smartphone in a matter of seconds. It is possible to turn the resize image setting off and transfer full-resolution files, but this takes longer and will eat into the storage capacity of your mobile device.
The X-T30 exposes for scenes and renders natural colour so well that you’ll find images require little, if any, processing work before they’re good to print or publish. For extra impact, some users might like to explore the film simulation modes, with the option to add warmth or cool down monochrome shots being another welcomed addition. The tried and tested TTL 256-zone metering system rarely skips a beat and with the exposure compensation dial directly accessible from your thumb, it’s easy enough to tweak exposure on the fly when it’s required.
The status screen, which provides a general overview of all shooting settings, also presents a clear indication of the remaining battery power as a percentage. Users can expect to shoot approximately 380 frames or 45 minutes of 4K/30p footage on a single charge, but if lots of shots are transferred wirelessly you’ll find the battery does deplete faster. Having the option to charge via USB-C as you shoot was a great option to have whilst on my travels. A small icon onscreen tells you when the camera is charging when it’s switched on and a green LED shows when it’s charging when it’s turned off.
Those who upgrade to the X-T30 from the X-T10 will also find that older NP-W126 batteries are compatible. Other than a few quirks regarding accidental presses of a few buttons and the seemingly backward way ISO is increased/decreased via the quick menu using the rear dial or touchscreen, there’s little to fault on the X-T30. Most importantly, it’s a reliable performer that delivers results that are on par with the X-T3, even when challenged by some of the hardest to photograph subjects and scenes.