With so many cameras on the market, it is often hard to decide which one will be better suited to a user’s needs. The beauty of choice is that users can decide if they want a compact camera, a SLR or a just a point-and-shoot model.
Fujifilm’s HS30 falls squarely into the compact camera space, and while it will not win any awards for ingenuity or design, it is a great camera to take along on a field trip or just to capture family photos – with minimal fuss.
What we like about it
Starting with the body, the SLR-like camera is very lightweight, coming in at just under 700g. That might sound very close to 1kg, but it makes a huge difference in handling and mobility. The buttons are all easily reachable from the standard grip, and making quick corrections is straightforward.
The business end has a maximum resolution of 4608 x 3456, and supports up to seven smaller resolutions that will save on memory space if users are running low. In terms of aspect ratio, the 16.0 megapixel camera supports 4:3, 3:2 and 16:9, with a 6.4 x 4.8 mm EXRCMOS sensor size. With that, it can achieve a maximum shutter speed of 1/4000 of a second.
At the back of the camera sits a neatly tucked away 3″ TFT colour LCD monitor with Sunny Day mode. While the screen is large enough, the articulated LCD can only tilt up or down. It would have been nice if it could swivel around for overhead shots, but tall photographers should not have a problem!
Another great feature of the HS30 is that it comes with a great 30x zoom – an equivalent focal length of 24–720 mm. It also has a 2x digital zoom, but that tends to diminish the image quality in any camera. For close up shots, the camera supports macro photography up to 1 cm.
Naturally the software on the device features a number of modes, such as Natural Light, Portrait Enhancer and Sport – and for some odd reason, dedicated modes for cats and dogs, respectively. It also has a Panorama feature, but we found it to be lacking in terms of direction.
While we successfully took a number of panorama shots, the device kept on communicating to us that images could not be taken due to some or other technical reason.
For movies, the HS30 can record 1920 x 1080 (30 fps), 1280 x 720 (30 fps), 640 x 480 (30 fps) films with a stereo microphone and supports MPEG-4 and H.264 file formats.
What we do not like about it
One of the most important factors when taking pictures, aside from image quality, is battery life. A user can still work around poor image quality, but once the battery is dead, that is it for the day! And, sadly, we found the HS30 to be lacking in that department.
While it performs well when the battery is fully charged, it seemed to deplete rather quickly after it hit the half-way mark. In total, we managed to only squeeze about 250 images out of a fully-charged battery – which is not good when going on a day-long field trip.
Another aspect that was a little worrisome to us – and this could have been the fault of the actual camera and not the model as a whole – is the fact that it froze mid-frame every 10th or so photo taken. There was absolutely nothing that could be done, except for removing the battery and re-inserting it.
In something that falls into the minor annoyance category, is that the camera often struggled to get a focus point on the automatic settings, even if the lighting was sufficient to take an image without the flash.
In sunny conditions the model performed beautifully, but it just seemed to struggle a little bit as soon as the lighting became dim.
The focus ring is also a little bit too close to the body of the camera, and Fujifilm would have made it a lot easier for users if they moved it out slightly.
The HS30 is a great compact little camera, and everything works as one would expect. Besides a few design flaws, the unit performs pretty well – if not for the battery. In general, it takes excellent quality images and the 30x zoom is fantastic.
With a small build and being lightweight, it can easily fit into a bag for a day at the zoo.
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor