Fujifilm FinePix F30 Zoom
Fujifilm’s solid, pocket-sized, champagne-coloured F30 has appeared in a seasonal flurry of hype. It replaces the well received F10 and F11, which were, arguably, the first compacts to convincingly offer the ability to shoot up to ISO 1600 without flash. The 6-megapixel F30 ups the ante by doubling this to ISO 3200, while battery life has also been improved to enable an impressive 580 shots from a single charge.
Whereas some compacts limit image noise at high ISOs with a decrease in resolution, (or employ noise-reduction software that smoothes out blemishes but often removes detail with it), the F30 allows full-resolution shooting.
So how is this possible? Fuji claims the unique configuration of pixels on its sensor boasts higher sensitivity to light than conventional design, while, if you do resort to flash, an intelligent system provides even exposure of foreground and background. That’s the theory. Inevitably, at ISO 3200 images start to visibly break up and noise is present, though it will at least tempt you to capture images that you wouldn’t previously have bothered trying. Sticking to ISO 800 avoids any problems.
The F30 powers up rapidly and there’s little delay between shots at the highest resolution. Images are composed via the bright and clear 2.5in LCD, as there’s no optical viewfinder. You get a fairly average 3x zoom to play with, perhaps limited by the fact that there’s no optical or mechanical image-stabilisation system to help prevent camera shake. Be aware that you’ll need to budget for a larger memory card than the 16MB one bundled with it, though there is 10MB internal memory as backup.
Happily, images are for the most part razor-sharp, requiring little in the way of post processing straight out of the camera, though colours err on the side of being naturalistic to the extent that they’re slightly muted. Switching to the chrome setting, accessible via its F (for ‘photo’) mode, produces more dynamic results. The chief talking point is still that ISO 3200 light sensitivity though, which produced mixed results.