The 6-megapixel Fujifilm Finepix F30 boasts a class-leading ISO 3200 for improved low-light performance.
Low Light Battleground
Pixel counts are passé in the compact arena now. Low-light shooting is the new battleground, with Image Stabilisation and high ISO options moving near the top of the discerning buyer’s wants list. Fujifilm took an early lead on the ISO front with its groundbreaking F10, which offered half-decent image quality at ISO 1600. The F30 raises that bar to ISO 3200.
The F30’s ability to shoot, handheld, with no flash, in lower light than any other compact is its unique selling point and, to be honest, its only distinguishing feature. Everything else is pretty run of the mill: a 6MP sensor, a 3x zoom (36-108mm equivalent) and a 2.5” screen. However, that ISO 3200 is a peretty big selling point. Camera shake and bad flash pictures are two of the biggest ruinations of people’s photos, and the high ISO option helps cure both. Ignore the ‘Manual’ position on the mode dial – it’s no such thing. The F30 offers shutter and aperture priority, program, and about 15 Scene modes. The ‘M’ setting just offers a bit more control.
Fujifilm has made some pretty stylish cameras in the past, with sliding lens covers and cool blue neon lights, but has become very conservative of late. The F30 isn’t ugly, but neither does it have anything to distinguish it from any of the hundreds of other anonymous silver boxes. Its slightly chunky form is nicely weighted and feels good in the hand, but it lacks the IXUS factor, making it a camera that has to rely on its more hidden charms to sell it.
There’s almost nothing negative that can be said about the F30’s performance. A bright, clear LCD (with a drag-free 60fps refresh rate mode), negligible shutter lag, a continuous mode that saves the first or last three in a sequence, and class-leading battery life. Sure, there’s no full manual control or Raw mode, but this is a point-and-shoot camera so you shouldn’t really expect them. The main thing is that the exposures and focusing are always on the money, which they were in our test.
On sunny ISO 100 days, the results are good, but no better than those from many other cameras. But with the F30 the quality stays good up to ISO 800. At ISO 1600 it breaks down a bit but is still okay. At ISO 3200 it’s pretty ropey, but no worse than ISO 3200 film, and still quite usable.
Value For Money
If you look at the basic specs on the card on the electrical superstore shelf it may not seem good value, but what value would you place on the ability to deliver good-quality shots in low light?
The F30’s appeal is as a pocket point-and-shooter for keen photographers – people who appreciate the value of good high ISO performance. Its qualities could be lost on the less tech-savvy buyer though, for whom a little more visual pizzazz wouldn’t have gone amiss. It would be their loss, as the F30 is a very good camera with few bad habits.