These days, it seems all you hear about are full-frame mirrorless cameras, with their glorious image sensors about the size of a 35mm film frame. Sony, Canon, and Nikon all seem to have their focus set on the market for high-end full-framers, but with few exceptions, Fujifilm has been steadfast, choosing instead to stick with its line of retro-styled shooters with smaller sensors. The new Fujifilm X-T30, which comes in black, silver, or “charcoal silver” is not lacking for style, and at $900, its sub-$1000 body price is quite attractive. There are, of course, disadvantages.
The X-T30 is a follow up to 2017's X-T20, another affordable APS-C sensor shooter. But the X-T30 is 0.23 inches thicker than the X-T20 and has done something that could be controversial—completely axing the D-pad used for navigating menus.
Instead, it’s been replaced with a much smaller joystick Fujifilm is referring to as a Focus Lever. Removing the D-pad makes the X-T30 look a little naked from the back, but don’t worry, it’s still a Fujifilm camera, which means every major setting you’d want to adjust on the fly (ISO, shutter speed, aperture, exposure) is right there on the camera in dial form.
This was great when I wanted to try an artsy shot in an old subway car and quickly underexpose the image. But the dials aren’t marked, and trying to learn them on the fly, as I ran around New York shooting during a winter storm, led to quite a few errors.
Same with the Q-button. Fujifilm told a group of reporters that one of the reasons for axing the D-pad was to push users towards the Q-button, which Fujifilm feels is a much more powerful device for navigating a mirrorless camera’s endless menus.
Hit the Q-button, and you see a whole mess of options that you can choose with a tap on the screen or by manipulating the focus lever. Just be careful, because Fujifilm placed the Q-button on an outcropping on the grip. Your thumb is supposed to rest next to the button, leaving it nearby for faster tweaks, but that didn’t work for my tiny hands, and I found myself hitting it by accident frequently.
Outside of the switch from D-pad to joystick, and the camera’s increased girth, the big change is the sensor. The X-T30 has the same 26.1MP APS-C sensor found in the larger and more expensive X-T3 and a quad-core processor that should work with the sensor to deliver prettier images and faster focusing.
To that end, the X-T30 can shoot 4K video at 30 frames per second or 1080p at 120fps, and via the camera’s HDMI port, you can get up to 10-bit, 4:2:2 color out of the camera’s video. That’s impressive for a mirrorless camera going for under $1,000. Sony’s APS-C sensor rivals, the a6500 and a6300 both shoot just 8-bit 4K, with the a6500 costing nearly $200 more and the a6300 costing about $50 less than the X-T30.
The new sensor’s phase autofocus, has supposedly been improved to work in darker conditions. Fujifilm has also added some focus goodies like Face Select, which as its name implies, lets you prioritize faces.
I say “should” because it was inconsistent in my 24 hours with the camera. More than one shot came out blurry, and in one particularly low light instance in a bar (which would be challenging for any camera) it focused on some dummies in the background instead of my actual subjects.
I should note that this isn’t the final release of the camera, so there’s still time to sort out the bugs.
The X-T30 will start shipping in March of this year for $900. If you want the charcoal silver version, you’ll have to wait a little longer though. It won’t start shipping until June 2019.
Correction 2/15/19 — This piece mislabeled the X-T20 as the X-T3o and vice versa in two instances. It has been corrected and we sincerely apologize for the error.