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Fujifilm X-T30 review: Beautiful, powerful and everything you need in a travel CSC

Amy Davies
23 Apr 2019
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
900
(inc VAT, with 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 lens)

Pitching itself as an “X-T3 Lite”, the X-T30 distils almost everything from its big brother into a smaller, lighter and cheaper body

Pros 
Gorgeous, retro body
Tilting, touch-sensitive screen
4K video
Cons 
Single card slot
Limited buffer for action
Irritating Q button placement
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Fujifilm has won a lot of fans with its range of XT cameras. The XT-30 replaces the X-T20 from a couple of years ago, bringing with it advanced features inherited from more advanced models. Just like the X-T20 was a pared down X-T2, so the X-T30 is a baby X-T3.

Featuring many of the same specifications as its pricier big brother, the X-T30 ticks a lot of boxes. It’s ideal as a travel camera, a back-up camera for X-T3 owners or just an all-round good performer for those who don’t want to push the budget.

READ NEXT: Our full review of the X-T30's big brother, the Fuji X-T3

Fujifilm X-T30 review: What you need to know

With the same 26.1 million-pixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS sensor and X-Processor 4 combination as the X-T3, the X-T30 should be capable of delivering the goods, quality-wise. The APS-C sensor might be smaller than the full-frame chips in cameras such as the Nikon Z6 or Canon EOS R, but Fujifilm clearly reckons this size of sensor is the perfect balance between portability and image quality; big enough to capture lots of light, but not requiring a huge body to house it.

Other similarities that the X-T30 shares with its sibling are its autofocus system and fast burst mode of up to 20fps. Where the X-T30 differs from the X-T3 is its buffer depth, offering a more limited 17 frames (raw) before the camera needs to pause for a breather – the X-T3 shoots up to 79. If you’re from the “spray and pray” school of action photography, this might not be the camera for you, but if your subjects tend to be more on the static side, it’s likely to be less of a bother.

Other differences come mainly with the build and handling – a natural consequence of the smaller body – and we’ll discuss those in more detail in the design section below.

Fujifilm X-T30 review: Price and competition

Here’s where Fujifilm really wants your attention. The X-T30 comes in at around £900, including a 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 lens, or £1,200 with the much better 18-55 f/2.8-4 lens. It’s by no means cheap, but compared to the X-T3, which currently sells for around £1,699 with the 18-55mm lens, it’s a significant saving.

If you look outside the Fujifilm brand, there’s healthy competition. The recently announced Sony a6400, for example, which also uses an APS-C sized sensor and a fantastic autofocusing system, can be picked up for around £999 with a 16-50mm lens – although we don’t think it handles as well.

Even more recent is the Panasonic G90. This uses a smaller Four Thirds sensor but is also pitched as an all-round model particularly suited to travel. You can get your hands on one for around £1,079 including its 12-60mm f/2.5-5.6 lens.

Fujifilm X-T30 review: Design and key features

Cameras in Fujifilm’s range currently fall into one of two camps – there’s the flatter “rangefinder” style of the X-Pro series, and the more DSLR-like “XT” style, which finds the viewfinder in the middle of the top plate. The X-T30 follows suit and is very much like a smaller X-T3 in shape.

While the X-T30 uses the same sensor and processor as its big brother, most of the notable differences are in its design. The X-T30 is smaller and lighter, which makes it great for travelling – but there are compromises. A good example is the lack of a dedicated ISO dial; another is its single SD card slot, which is unlikely to be a major problem for most enthusiasts, but for those who like to back-up on the go, it’s something to think about.

The good news is that there’s still a number of direct access control dials and buttons to satisfy tactile users. There’s a drive mode dial on the left of the top plate, while two more dials for shutter speed and exposure compensation are on the right. Something you won’t see on the more advanced X-T3 is an “auto” switch, but there’s a big one on the X-T30 – good for those who want the camera to take over exposure with a flick of the finger.

Buttons on the back of the camera are scarce. Our only major complaint is the positioning of the Q button, used to fire up the quick menu. It’s on the rear thumb rest, and we found it extremely easy to accidentally push when looking through the viewfinder – it arguably would have made more sense to put it out of the way of wandering thumbs. The joystick is handy for moving the focus point around the frame, but again it’s awkwardly placed. These are both issues that you’re likely to learn to work with once you’ve been using the camera for a long period, though.

The X-T30’s viewfinder is smaller and has a lower resolution than the X-T3 – 0.39in to the X-T3’s 0.5in, and 2.36 million pixels to the X-T3’s 3.69 million. However, it’s more than usable and, unless you’re using an X-T3 at the same time, stands up well in isolation. It’s joined by a 3in touchscreen that tilts up and down to help with slightly awkward angles, although unlike the X-T3’s screen, it doesn’t tilt outwards to help with portrait-format images. As with Canon’s new EOS R and RP cameras, you can use the screen and viewfinder in tandem, moving your thumb across the screen to alter the focus point.

Another shared specification between the X-T3 and the X-T30 is the same phase detection autofocusing system with 99% sensor area coverage, along with burst shooting speeds of up to 20fps. In practice, it’s very capable of keeping up with reasonably predictable subjects, but a little less with erratic or very fast subjects.

There’s a significant difference in buffer depth: the X-T30 will manage 17 RAW or 32 JPEGs before it needs to stop for a pause. The X-T3 can manage 34 RAW or 79 JPEGs, meaning it's more useful for long bursts. In short, if you’re a dedicated sports and action shooter, the X-T30 might not fit the bill, but for the occasional fast-moving subject, it’s a good little performer.

Finally, another specification that will appeal to travel shooters is the ability to charge via USB-C. That means no need to bother with dedicated chargers, and you can also use power banks to give the camera a boost while on the road.

Fujifilm X-T30 review: Image and video quality

Just as the X-T20 shares the same sensor as the X-T2, the X-T30 uses the X-T3 sensor. So we’ve already seen it in action and know just how well it can perform. Compared with the X-T2/X-T30 sensor, there are some design tweaks, including adding back illumination. It’s unlikely you’ll see a massive difference unless you’re blowing up images at huge sizes and actively searching for differences.

Long story short: image quality is fantastic. Fujifilm images are generally characterised by a filmic quality, with vibrant yet natural colours and great dynamic range. That remains true for the X-T30. It also works well in low light, and doesn’t suffer too badly from having a smaller than full-frame sensor.

In extremely dark conditions, images shot at ISO 12,800 remain usable (with low noise and not too much evidence of image smoothing). Speeds beyond that are extension settings. Where light is low but not extremely so, you can just about push to ISO 25,600 if you’re intending to share at small sizes and need to facilitate a quicker shutter speed. In an ideal world, you’ll stick to ISO 3200 or below for the best image quality.

Focusing in most conditions is very swift and generally accurate. In very low light, the camera can hunt a little before it locks onto the target - but it’s extremely rare for a false confirmation to be displayed, even if that means you have to give it a couple of goes to get there.

Using all-purpose metering resulted in well-balanced exposures in the majority of situations. JPEG images straight out of the camera are fantastic, but its RAW files are extremely malleable if you need to expose for highlights and bring back some shadow detail in post processing.

Film Simulation modes are a great selling point of Fujifilm series cameras. The X-T30 is equipped with a full range of options including Provia (the default setting), Velvia, Astia, Classic Chrome and Acros (monochrome).

Not having image stabilisation in the body is a bit of a disappointment. Instead you’ll have to rely on quick shutter speeds, or work with lenses with stabilisation built in, such as the fantastic 18-55mm f/2.8-4 kit lens. Kit lens is a harsh way to describe it as, with fantastic sharpness and a wide maximum aperture, it’s an ideal everyday lens. You can also buy the X-T30 with a 15-45mm kit lens, which is nice and small but doesn’t perform quite as well.

There are plenty of other lenses available for X mount now that the system has matured since its debut in 2012. For the X-T30, the f2 primes make perfect sense – small and light, but still capable of producing excellent images. We’ve used the 23mm f/2 and the 50mm f/2 with this camera and found both to be the ideal match for its shape and size.

It’s fair to say that the X-T30 is unlikely to be the first choice for serious videographers, but for those who like to create the odd movie, there’s DCI 4K available in frame rates up to 30p. Standard 4K is also available up to 30p, too. Full HD, as well as Full HD slow-mo is also present. You can use the X-T30’s USB Type-C port to attach headphones, while there’s also a microphone socket. You can still shoot LOG and output ten-bit video over the HDMI connection, but the X-T3’s ability to shoot a wider range of frame rates, as well as displaying a film simulation while recording F-log footage, give it an edge.

Fujifilm X-T30 review: Verdict

As we generally find to be the case with Fujifilm offerings, there’s a lot to like about the X-T30 and hardly anything to dislike. It’s a superb camera that distils many of the best elements of the X-T3 into a smaller, lighter and cheaper camera.

That said, when compared to the last-generation X-T20, the differences are not huge enough to demand an immediate upgrade. In fact, it depends what you shoot – image quality is very similar to the old model, with improvements chiefly around autofocus and body design. If you primarily shoot static subjects, the X-T30 might not give you much over the X-T20.

It’s also something to consider if you’re trying to choose between the X-T30 and the more expensive X-T3. Consider what’s important to you: for your extra cash, the X-T3 gives you an additional memory card slot, more body controls, a sideways tilting screen and a better burst depth. If you can live without all of those things, the X-T30 gives you the same image quality. For many, that will be enough.

Key specifications
Number of effective pixels26.1 million
Storage mediaSD Card, SDHC Card, SDXC Card
Lens mountFujifilm X mount
Shutter typeFocal plane shutter
FlashManual pop-up flash
Hot shoeYes
Viewfinder0.39in 2.36 million dots OLED colour viewfinder
Monitor3in 1.04 million dot touch screen colour LDC monitor
BluetoothBluetooth V4.2
TerminalsUSB Type-C, HDMI micro connector, 2.5mm stereo mini connector
Battery life (still images)Approx 380 frames
Battery life (movie capture)Approx 45 min (4K & Full HD)
Weight383g (incl. battery and memory card)
Dimensions118.4 x 82.8 x 46.8mm (WHD)
Price£900 (inc VAT, with 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 lens)