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: Hands On First Look
Fujifilm X-T30 : At a glance
- £849.99 (body only)
- Fujifilm X-mount
- 26.1-million-pixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor
- ISO 160-12800 (80-51200 extended)
- 425-point AF system with 2.16-million phase detection pixels
- Up to 30fps continuous shooting with electronic shutter
- 4K/30p video recording with 4:2:2 10bit HDMI output
- Single SD card slot
Five months after introducing the extremely impressive X-T3 into its lineup of X-series mirrorless cameras, Fujifilm has followed up with the announcement of its smaller, lighter and more affordable cousin – the Fujifilm X-T30. In the same way the X-T20 was a simplified, more affordable alternative to the company’s X-T2, the Fujifilm X-T30 follows the same ethos and inherits much of what we loved about the X-T3 whilst introducing some autofocus improvements that’ll soon be made available to X-T3 users via a new firmware update.
Fujifilm’s double-digit X-T series models have proven to be hugely successful in recent years. With the X-T20 being touted as the company’s best selling camera ever made, the X-T30 has it all to do if it’s to be as popular as its predecessor. We’ve been told the X-T20 will continue to be sold alongside the X-T30 and won’t be discontinued straight away.
The Fujifilm X-T30 appears little different to the X-T20 when it’s viewed from the front. It shares the same boxy, high-shouldered design as its forerunner and is noticeably smaller and more compact than the X-T3 when the two are viewed side by side. Under its skin and at the rear of the camera it’s a different story. There are a number of areas where the X-T30 differs from the X-T20 to make it stand out in the market and gain interest from amateur and enthusiast photographers looking for a capable and attractive looking camera that costs less than £1,000 with a kit lens.
The X-T30, like the X-T3, benefits from Fujifilm’s 4th generation X-Trans CMOS 4 technology and is equipped with the company’s latest 26.1-million-pixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor. This fourth generation sensor has a back-illuminated structure, excludes a low-pass filter to enhance image quality and partners up with Fujifilm’s X-Processor that’s 3x faster than the one used inside the X-T20. This combination has seen the sensitivity range increase, albeit very slightly. Previously ISO 160 was only available as extended ISO, but now it’s part of the native range, which spans from ISO 160-12,800 (expandable to ISO 80-51,200).
Compared to the X-T3, which can shoot up to 11fps using its mechanical shutter, the X-T30 shoots at a maximum speed of 8fps using its mechanical shutter. Faster continuous shooting speeds of up to 30fps can be reached by employing the electronic shutter, however it should be noted that this enforces a 1.25x crop of the sensor, resulting in a 16-million-pixel resolution image. The fastest the X-T30 can shoot using its electronic shutter without the 1.25x crop is 20fps. The buffer isn’t as large as the X-T3’s, however it can still sustain 32 JPEGs or 17 Raw files at 20fps and 90 JPEGs or 18 Raw files at 8fps.
Another difference between the X-T30 and X-T3 is that the latter can shoot up to 1/8000sec using its mechanical shutter, whereas the maximum shutter speed on the X-T30 with the mechanical shutter deployed is 1/4000sec. For times when a faster shutter speed is required or silent operation is essential, the electronic shutter can be used to shoot at up to 1/32,000sec.
One of the key talking points on the X-T30 are the improvements that have been made to its autofocus system. It inherits the same sophisticated AF system from the X-T3 with four times as many phase detection pixels on the sensor than you get on the X-T20. The 2.16-million phase detection pixels cover 100% of the frame and the low-light autofocus sensitivity has improved from -1EV to -3EV. Users get a choice of either 117 selectable AF points laid out into a 9×13 grid, or there’s a 425-point layout consisting of a 17×25 grid, plus there are custom AF-C modes to enhance focus tracking when shooting moving subjects. These are similar to those on the Fujifilm X-T3, however you don’t get the option to manually adjust the tracking sensitivity, speed tracking sensitivity or zone area switching to create your own custom AF-C preset.
Fujifilm has taken the opportunity to update the AF-algorithm on the X-T30, promising improvements to the performance of autofocus in regard to Face and Eye tracking, Face Selection and Non-stop Phase Detection AF when focusing from distance. Following feedback from X-T3 users, the updated Gen. 4.1 AF algorithm is intended to rule out the jittery performance that’s associated with Face and Eye detection and make it smoother. The algorithm has been reworked so it can identify smaller faces in the frame as well as provide faster focusing from far to near or near to far when using phase-detection AF in combination with long telephoto lenses. Fujifilm X-T3 users will be pleased to hear that these improvements will also be made available to them via a firmware update.
Other features that see the X-T30 advance on the X-T20 include its ability to shoot ultra high definition 4K/30p video, supporting 4:2:2 10bit output via HDMI and 4:2:0 8bit output in-camera. It also offers 48KHz 24bit high bit-depth sound recording in body and the USB-C interface that’s found at the side for charging the battery doubles up as as the X-T30’s headphone plug.
All of the above is backed up with all of Fujiflm’s suite of film simulation modes, Bluetooth and Wi-fi connectivity and a renewed version of Fujifilm’s Camera Remote app (Ver.4.0) that’ll be available to download for free on iOS in March and Android in May.
Viewfinder & Screen
At the rear, the X-T30’s 3in, 1.04-million-dot touchscreen features two-way tilt manoeuvrability and has been made 1.3mm thinner than the screen you’ll find on the X-T20. Fujifilm’s engineers have refined the responsiveness of the touchscreen too, which has been improved to make it easier to select settings from the quick menu, move the AF point, fire the shutter or swipe through images in playback mode.
Just above the screen, the X-T30’s centrally-placed electronic viewfinder is a similar 0.39in, 2.36-million-dot OLED unit as found on the X-T20. It features a 0.62x magnification, dioptre adjustment, and an eye sensor that permits automatic switching with the rear screen. Raise the viewfinder to your eye and you’ll find it displays extensive exposure information, including an electronic level and live histogram. The information also automatically rotates when composing and switching between the landscape and portrait shooting orientations.
Build & Handling
Although the X-T30 is identical in size and build quality to the X-T20, a few changes have been made to the rear to make it better from an operational and handling perspective.
Unlike the X-T20, which requires the AF point to be repositioned using the d-pad, the X-T30 replaces this with a joystick like you get on the X-E3 and X-T3. This allows the AF point to be shifted around the frame using your thumb, which feels natural and intuitive. The new joystick also presents an excellent way of navigating the main menu and finding the settings you want quickly with minimal thumb movement. This is important because like previous X-series cameras, the touchscreen can’t be used to work your way through the main menu.
The top and base plates are made of lightweight magnesium alloy, which give it a reassuringly solid feel when it’s picked up. It doesn’t have the same level of robustness and durability that you’d get if you opted for the weather sealed X-T3, but generally speaking it feels well constructed and the body panels don’t creak when it’s squeezed or held tightly. In standard Fujifilm fashion, the body is based around traditional analogue controls, with top-plate shutter speed and exposure compensation dials being complemented by an aperture ring on most Fujinon lenses.
The Disp/Back button remains in the same place as before with the Menu/OK button positioned directly above it. The introduction of the joystick where the Q-menu button used to be on the X-T20 forced Fujifilm’s design team into rethinking its positioning. To ensure it remains easily accessible, it has been added to the raised section of the renewed thumb rest.
In all other respects its much the same as the X-T20. Beginners will appreciate the switch beside the shutter speed dial that gains access to auto mode in an instant, there’s a threaded shutter button to screw in a cable release and full access to the drive settings from the dial on the far left of the body, around which users will find a lever to manually raise the pop up flash when it’s required.
The Fujifilm X-T30 advances upon what was, and still is, a great enthusiast camera. By inheriting the same core features from the X-T3, the X-T30 has been turned into an even faster and more responsive performer than the X-T20 and packs a serious punch for its size.
During a brief hands-on session we tried out Face Detection and Eye AF, which seemed less jittery and had no issue with recognising small faces in the frame. The touchscreen also responded to soft finger movements on screen and the introduction of the d-pad transforms general operation and positioning of the AF point. Other tweaks to the design such as the improved thumb rest with easy access to the Quick menu are well received too.
If your budget can’t stretch to the fabulous X-T3 and you want a lot of what it offers in a smaller, lighter body, the X-T30 ticks a lot of the right boxes. As things stand at the time of launch, the X-T30 costs £500 less than the more advanced X-T3 (£1,349).
If you want dual card slots, a weather-sealed body, 4K/60P 4:2:2 10-bit HDMI output and 4K/60p 4:2:0 10-bit internal video recording, a dedicated ISO dial and the option to add a battery grip to increase shooting stamina, the Fujifilm X-T3 gets the nod over the X-T30.
The X-T30’s form factor and the way it’s supported by the best APS-C-specific lens range currently on the market makes it a very attractive little camera for aspiring photographers as well as capable enthusiasts. Given the choice of the black, silver or charcoal silver finishes, we’d be tempted to choose the charcoal silver option, which is similar to the graphite silver X-T2 Fujifilm made.
Fujifilm certainly look like they’re onto a winner with the X-T30 and we’re looking forward giving it a thorough test when our review sample arrives in a couple of weeks. Watch this space.
Fujifilm XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR
At the same time as announcing the X-T30, Fujifilm has added to their lineup of X-series prime lenses with the release of the XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR (£349.99). First seen on Fujifilm’s stand at Photokina 2018, we now know more information about this smallest and lightest lens in Fujifilm’s compact prime series.
The optical construction features 10 elements in 8 groups including a pair of aspherical elements. The manual aperture ring works across an f/2.8 to f/22 range and it has a minimum focusing distance of 17cm. Its petite size (60×45.4mm) will appeal to X-series photographers who’d like a highly portable and fast wide-angle prime that’s equivalent to 24mm. Just as the WR abbreviation in its name implies, it’s also weather resistant.
Combined with the X-T30 it creates an ultra lightweight body and lens combination weighing less than 550g. The lens weighs 155g on the scales, with the X-T30 weighing in at 383g.
Fujifilm X-T3 Firmware Update (Version 3.0.0)
The improvements that have been made to the AF algorithm on the X-T30 will also be available to users of the Fujifilm X-T3 by downloading and installing firmware Ver.3.0.0. As well as improving the speed and smoothness of face detection, obstacles that might come between you and your subject are said to be ignored slightly better. The other improvements the new firmware brings is its ability to detect and track smaller faces in the frame and offer non-stop phase detection AF for a more immediate autofocus response between long distances when using long telephoto lenses.
As well as the improvements to the AF algorithm, the new firmware brings the X-T30’s faster touch screen response to the X-T3. To download the new firmware head to Fujifilm’s support website.
Price and availability
The black and silver versions of the Fujifilm X-T30 will be available to buy from 20th March 2019. The charcoal silver finish of the X-T30 is expected to follow a little later in May. The black version of the XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR is expected in March, with the silver version following in May/June. The full breakdown of pricing is as follows:
- Fujifilm X-T30 (body only) – £849.99
- Fujifilm X-T30 & 15-45mm kit – £899.99
- Fujifilm X-T30 & 18-55mm kit – £1,199.99
- Fujifilm XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR – £349.99