Shrinking down the best parts (and price) of the X-T3 For Fujifilm, shrinking the phenomenal X-T3 down into a smaller package was always going to be a winning proposition. For several years running, the company has followed up on its flagship X-series mirrorless camera with a more portable (and more affordable) option that still offers many of the best features and capabilities of the flagship. This step-down series is actually Fujifilm’s most popular camera line; the X-T20, introduced in 2017, became the company’s best-selling camera ever. And now its successor is here.
With the $899 X-T30, Fujifilm is trickling down some of the most impressive aspects of the X-T3 into a camera that costs a whopping $600 less. And considering that many have hailed the X-T3 as Fujifilm’s best camera ever, that’s a very good starting point. It’s got the same fourth-generation 26.1-megapixel APS-C sensor, processing power, speedy burst shooting, and Fujifilm’s whole set of film simulations that require little retouching. The X-T30 can record excellent-looking 4K video, and its 425-point phase-detect autofocus system spans the entire frame. In fact, right now the X-T30 actually delivers better autofocus accuracy and face detection than the X-T3 — at least until a firmware update arrives for the latter sometime this month.
You give up some niceties for the lower price, of course: this camera isn’t weather sealed and its electronic viewfinder isn’t quite as immersive or sharp as the X-T3’s. But those trade-offs are fairly standard at this price. Everywhere else, it’s hard to find something that surpasses the X-T30 — especially if you’re drawn to Fujifilm’s many dials and knobs for manual control when the moment calls for it.
This is a far more compact and light camera than the X-T3. The X-T30 is only 0.844 pounds as opposed to the 1.19-pound flagship. But size-wise, for me the X-T30 is actually a little too tiny. As with my past Fujifilm cameras, I had to buy the metal hand grip for the X-T3 to keep my pinky from always hanging off the bottom. With the X-T30, my ring finger also has nowhere to go, which makes for an awkward, but still secure, grip. Fujifilm’s heavier telephoto lenses might pose some discomfort. If you already own the add-on grip for the X-T20 or even the older X-T10, it’ll also fit the newer camera. That said, I can also appreciate the argument that the X-T30’s light load and small footprint in a bag are some of its best perks — especially for a camera this powerful. It’s just not a great choice for those of us with giant hands. Sony’s A6400, perhaps the X-T30’s most direct rival, does a little better at ergonomics despite its similar size.
The X-T30 looks identical to the X-T20 from the front and top. You’ve got the same dials for mode, shutter speed, and exposure compensation. You lose the dedicated ISO dial that’s present on the larger X-T3, but it’s very easy to assign ISO to the front or rear control knob for instant adjustments. There’s also still the tiny, hidden pop-up flash, which isn’t something you’ll get on Fujifilm’s larger cameras. But honestly, I never found much use for it. Same goes for the camera’s Advanced SR (scene recognition) Auto mode, which you can switch to by flipping a lever near the shutter speed dial. You’re not buying a Fujifilm camera to use it in full auto.
This is a lot of camera in a little, lightweight body
Around back are where the X-T30’s changes are most pronounced. The four-direction d-pad is gone completely, replaced by an eight-way autofocus joystick that is also how you’ll navigate the camera’s menus. The Q button (for fast access to your basic settings) has also been repositioned slightly. I’ve seen some complaints that it’s easy to push accidentally, but this was never the case for me. Fujifilm has slimmed down the 3-inch touchscreen display, which still pulls out and articulates vertically, but won’t fully flip to face forward for vlogging. As with the X-T3, I really like using the touchscreen to quickly move my focus point when looking through the viewfinder.
There’s a 2.5mm microphone jack among the X-T30’s ports, but if you want to monitor audio when recording video, you’ll either need USB-C headphones or to use a USB-C-to-3.5mm adapter. Fujifilm supports USB 3.1, allowing full operation of the camera when you plug in an external battery pack (with USB Power Delivery) or charger even when its battery is fully depleted. The single SD card slot is found right next to the battery slot.
The X-T30’s viewfinder is brighter than the X-T20’s, according to Fujifilm, and it’s more responsive with a lag of 0.005 seconds and a very smooth refresh rate of 100 fps. The latter only applies when you put the camera into boost mode, which eats up the battery quicker. But it’s worth doing if you’re shooting action. Even with those improvements, this is still no match for the X-T3’s EVF. For one, it’s smaller (0.39 versus 0.5 inches) with a lower magnification (0.62x instead of 0.75x), and that difference is noticeable when you peer through both of them back to back. It also can’t match the pricier camera on resolution (2.36 million versus 3.69 million dots). Lastly, the X-T3 has a larger eyecup that extends outward from the back of the camera more; as someone with glasses, the X-T30 simply wasn’t as nice to shoot with, and my nose constantly pressed up against the rear LCD.
The X-T30’s viewfinder isn’t ideal if you wear glasses
As I said earlier, the X-T30 has even better autofocus abilities than the X-T3 at the moment. Both cameras can detect faces in a frame, but the X-T30 will actually let you pick which face you want as the primary subject. It can also detect and lock onto faces that are smaller (farther away) in a shot. And apparently black hair could throw off Fujifilm’s face detection before, so that’s been resolved, too. Those are the main improvements, and they’ll be coming to the X-T3 in short order. Otherwise, the X-T30 has the same dependable and fast autofocus system of the pricier camera. It can shoot up to 8 fps in continuous mode with the mechanical shutter, a tad slower than the X-T3’s 11 fps. But both cameras can shoot in a lightning-quick 30 fps sports mode that applies a 1.25x crop. There’s no blackout in the viewfinder when you do this, and continuous autofocus keeps running the entire time.
Video is where the X-T30 is a rung below the X-T3. It can still shoot beautiful 4K footage (downsampled from 6K), but you’re limited to 10-minute clips. I don’t think it’s some arbitrary restriction, as this small camera would probably start to overheat if you went much over that. And 4K frame rate tops out at 30 fps instead of the X-T3’s buttery-smooth 60 fps. (You can also record at 120 fps in 1080p for slow-motion footage.) Professional videographers will definitely lean toward the X-T3 for its longer shooting times, but the X-T30 is no slouch, able to record 8-bit 4:2:0 video direct to the SD card or 10-bit 4:2:2 video to an external recorder. That allows for plenty of post-processing flexibility, but if you’re not a pro, Fujifilm’s Eterna color filter makes for natural-looking video that’s easy to quickly tune and adjust.
As always, JPEGs from the X-T30 look downright terrific. All of Fujifilm’s signature film simulations are included, and it’s a lot of fun testing them and seeing what works best for a given shooting scenario, whether you’re looking for more vivid colors, moody black and white shots, or something with softer tones. The company recently launched a redesigned mobile app for iOS (it’ll come to Android this summer), but I’ll just say that there’s still room for improvement in terms of speed and eliminating unnecessary steps. The Wi-Fi connection between phone and camera is stable, and sending photos over to your phone for a quick Instagram post is a great option to have. That’s all I really ever do with the app, but you can also use it as a remote shutter via Bluetooth.
You can buy the X-T30 in several kit configurations; I’d recommend pairing the camera with Fujifilm’s excellent 35mm f/2 prime lens. Just like the body, it’s designed to be lightweight and compact and has the makings of a perfect street setup. The X-T30 is facing some stiff competition in its price class (especially from Sony). But if you’ve already invested in Fujifilm’s lens lineup and have been waiting for an irresistible upgrade, this might just be it — if you’ve got the right hands for it.
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