The HS20EXR replacement has some savvy improvements. We get hands on with the Fujifilm Finepix HS30EXR...

Fujifilm has announced the new FinePix HS30EXR; a 30x optical zoom bridge camera which is set to replace the HS20EXR. What Digital Camera is on hand at the Consumer Electronics Show 2012, where we’ve been able to get hold of a working sample.

The HS30EXR features a host of key improvements on what was already a popular superzoom, so it looks set to prove popular.

First up there’s the improved 16-megapixel EXR-CMOS sensor which, Fujifilm claims, will deliver 30% less digital noise at higher ISO settings, thus displaying smoother tones and better low light images. It’s not something we’ve been able to thoroughly test at the show, however, as the model isn’t a final product and Fuji wouldn’t allow us to take sample images away for publication.

What is a big improvement, and one that immediately stands out, however, is the HS30EXR’s brand new electronic viewfinder (EVF). It’s an all-new 0.26-inch, 920k-dot version that ups the ante compared to the HS20EXR’s 0.20-inch, 200k-dot model. The viewing angle is an improvement and the increase in physical size make for a better experience. It’s still fairly small though, but this is a step in the right direction and one of the very things we were hoping that Fujifilm would address in the series. Although the HS30 may not quite match up to the X-S1’s impressive 1.44m-dot viewfinder, it’s other small improvements such as an increased 22 degrees viewing angle that help make the experience all the better.

The HS30EXR keeps the same 3in, 460k-dot LCD screen as found on the HS20EXR although it now features a ‘Sunny Day’ mode for improved visibility in difficult conditions. This is the same mode as per the X-S1, but it wasn’t possible to test this to a high degree in the artificial light on the Fujifilm stand.

Several new elements of functionality with a view towards improved usability have also been added. These include a new Intelligent Digital Zoom function, the option to manually focus during movie recording and a customisable function (Fn) key, as well as an electronic level gauge.

There’s one other big change – a new rechargeable li-ion battery replaces the previous generation of AA batteries and we think this is a big step forward. It makes the camera seem like a far more serious snapper. Fuji claims this will up the capacity from 350 shots to 600 shots per charge. None too bad.

Fans of the HS20EXR’s 30x optical zoom with be pleased to know that the optics remain unchanged, with the 24-720mm focal range in tact, while Raw and 1080p HD video capture also remain unaltered.

All in all the HS30EXR isn’t too different compared to the HS20EXR, but the all important adjustment of viewfinder and battery are big steps forward.

Price and availability have yet to be announced, so stay tuned for more information as and when we get it as well as a full What Digital Camera HS30EXR review.