What APS-C Mirrorless Should Be: The Fujifilm X-T30

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This, photography fans, is what APS-C mirrorless shooting should be. Fujifilm has just rolled out the new Fujifilm X-T30 camera on the heels of the already-popular X-T3. Like the X-T10 to the X-T1 and the X-T20 to the X-T2, the X-T30 is what happens when you put the X-T3 on a diet—the personality and almost all of the insides stay the same, but the outside gets smaller and the whole thing gets lighter. The X-T1 was a lightweight camera, no doubt, but, unfortunately, the X-T2 and X-T3 packed on some ounces in the name of technology, changing the overall feel of the X-system for the flagship shooters. The double-digit X-T models represented what the bigger siblings would be without all the weather seals and gigantic EVFs. (What comes after the X-T9, Fujifilm? I really need to come up with a naming convention consulting service for camera companies.)

Before we talk about the X-T30, let's mention that Fujifilm has also launched the diminutive, but beautiful XF 16mm f/2.8 WR lens. It is one of the smallest and lightest lenses in the Fujifilm X-series lineup.

Photos © Todd Vorenkamp
All images are JPEGs straight out of the camera.

Professional shooters or those who subject their gear to more than the occasional holiday vacation will, no doubt, choose the more rugged single-digit model when faced with this purchasing decision. But, if you aren't going to try to bump, bruise, or break your camera on an almost-daily adventure, nor are you planning on leaving the camera out on the lawn on watering days, yet you still want the great Fujifilm color palette and sensor performance, the X-T30 is likely the camera for you.

FUJIFILM X-T30 Mirrorless Digital Camera
FUJIFILM X-T30 Mirrorless Camera

What do you get with the X-T30 (and X-T3)?

  • 26.1MP BSI APS-C X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor
  • X-Processor 4 quad-core CPU
  • Up to 30 fps shooting with the electronic shutter
  • Up to 11 fps with the mechanical shutter
  • 3.0" LCD screen with 1.04m-dot resolution

What is different about the X-T30?

  • 1/4000 second mechanical shutter compared to 1/8000 with the X-T3. The electronic shutter on both goes to 1/32000.
  • 4K30p Full HD 120 fps instead of 4K60p on the X-T3.
  • The movie format in the X-T30 is MOV (MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, Audio: Linear PCM / Stereo sound 24bit / 48KHz sampling). In the X-T3 it is H.265.
  • The 4K30p recording time is 10 minutes. On the X-T3, the 4K60p time is 30 min.
  • The electronic viewfinder on the X-T30 is slightly smaller in size, resolution, and magnification than the X-T3's—0.39" vs. 0.5" and 2.36m-dot vs. 3.69m-dot, and 0.62x vs. 0.75x.
  • The X-T30 has a pop-up flash. The X-T3 does not.
  • The X-T30 has a single SD card slot. The X-T3 has a dual slot system.
  • The operating range for the X-T30 is 32-104ºF. The X-T3 operates from 14-104ºF.
  • The X-T30 is 6 oz lighter; 13 oz compared to the 1lb 3oz of the X-T3.

Handling

Avoiding the popular cliché, it is the size and weight of the X-T30 that you notice first. As I alluded to above, the Fujifilm X-Series cameras, when compared to their APS-C and full-frame DSLR competition, are generally smaller and lighter. The double-digit X-T series, including the X-T30, moves the scale's needle in the opposite direction. We are truly in point-and-shoot territory here. Grab the X-T30 and you know you can carry that camera all day without so much as a fatigued pinky. Knowing that you can slap any Fujifilm X-mount lens on the front makes one giddy with the possibilities. This camera, especially when paired with a lightweight lens like the new Fujifilm XF 16mm f/2.8, is as portable as they come. Traveling light and forgoing the camera bag? The X-T30 will ride shotgun in a purse, backpack, or messenger bag without notice.

The retro controls feel as heavy and solid as they do in the X-T3. The X-T30 removes some buttons, and changes the ISO dial on the top left to a drive dial (ISO adjustments on the fly can be programmed to one of the command dials), but, overall, you feel like you are wielding a shrunken X-T3—or your hands got bigger.

Menus and Controls

The biggest addition to the X-T30 is the rear joystick. Introduced on the X-Pro2 and appearing on many X-series bodies now, the joystick is meant to replace the four-button pad for your right thumb. A clear majority of shooters will prefer this system, but count me in as someone who appreciated the flexibility of the pad. X-T3 (and X-T2) shooters get the best of both worlds with a keypad and joystick. As far as joysticks go, however, this one feels and works great.

The quick menu (Q) button was displaced by the joystick and is now on the thumb rest. This is perfect for access, but, on a few occasions, especially once I put gloves on, I depressed it accidentally and the view of the scene I was framing turned into the quick menu.

Like its -10 and -20 siblings, the X-T30 has a built-in flash that is popped by a lever to the left of the ISO dial. In the world of pop-up flashes, these three cameras tie for first place when it comes to having a camera with a pop-up flash that doesn't look like it has a pop-up flash.

Touchscreen

Like the X-T3, the X-T30 has some touchscreen functionality on its rear LCD. This is even more important than the touchscreen on the X-T3 since you are now without the four-button pad for navigation. And, like when I shoot the X-T3, I am so used to not having a touchscreen that I must force myself to remember to use it. Am I a Luddite? I don't think so, but, regardless, this is a personal work in progress.

Autofocus

The autofocus on the camera, especially with the new XF 16mm lens, was incredibly sharp and accurate. I believe that I unintentionally set up the focus system differently on the X-T30 than I have it set on my X-T3 and, because of this, I spent a few moments here and there saying, silently, "What's it doing now?" Chalk that up to user error.

As mirrorless autofocus systems have been getting better and better, the complexity of the autofocus options has been increasing, as well, to the point where you might have to endure some YouTube lectures, by someone much more learned than I, to understand how to set up your camera.

Images

I took the X-T30 for a walk across half of the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset the other night to see how it performed. Confession time: Depending on what camera I am reviewing, I might bring my X-T2 or X-T3 on the shoot with me to grab images with a camera that I am familiar and comfortable with. Knowing that the X-T30 has the same sensor and processor on board as the X-T3, I had no reservations about leaving my X-T3 at home.

I brought a small battery of Fujifilm X lenses with me, including the new XF 16mm f/2.8,  XF 23mm f/1.4 RXF35mm f/1.4 RXF 56mm f/1.2 R, and XF 90mm f/2 R LM WR. Looking at the metadata, apparently, the 23mm never left my bag, but I blame that more on the cold than on lens selection.

How did the X-T30 do? Fujifilm color? Check. Fujifilm sharpness? Check. Fun to use? Check. Queries from other Fujifilm shooters on the bridge? Check. Knowing you don't need to have full-frame to get great (hopefully) shots? Check.

How did the XF 16mm f/2.8 do? Fujifilm color? Check. Fujifilm sharpness? Edge-to-edge—see the corners of the wide shots with the bridge wires.

Thoughts

When our John Harris reviewed the X-T10, he mentioned how it was tough to be the little brother. Back then, the price difference between the X-T1 and X-T10 was a bit less than what it is now between the X-T3 and X-T30. Are you an X-T2 shooter looking to upgrade but you aren't shooting as much as you thought you would be? Are you wanting to get into the Fujifilm system at the highest level (sensor and processor), but don't need all the features of the X-T3? I think Fujifilm might just have an awesome camera for you in the X-T30. If I had unlimited funds, the X-T30 would be a shoe-in for a backup to the X-T3 while likely coming in off the bench when I really want to travel light(er), because I know I would be getting identical image quality in a smaller and lighter package.

A New Tough Camera

Before we go, Fujifilm does have yet another announcement to sneak in: the FinePix XP140. Just by looking at it, you can see the underlying DNA from previous Fujifilm tough cameras, and it is water, shock, freeze, and dustproof just like all those models. A huge upgrade is the addition of UHD 4K video at 15 fps for capturing highly detailed footage in tough conditions. Also, it has a sensitivity range of ISO 100-12800, Bluetooth Low Energy, and a Smile Shutter mode. You can find it in stylish Sky Blue and Yellow.

Are you ready for the X-T30? Share your thoughts in the Comments section, below!

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