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Cameras

Fujifilm X-T30 mirrorless bets on nostalgia to challenge Sony and Canon

Fujifilm's going to run out of generations who fondly remember film cameras.

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No more navigation D-pad, just the Focus Lever (a joystick by any other name ) to get around with. You really won't miss the navigation buttons.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Fujifilm is a master of retro camera design, and it's continuing its trend of capitalizing on that to challenge the leaders in its class, the new Sony A6400 and last year's Canon EOS M50

Its new X-T30, the step-down enthusiast model from the powerhouse X-T3 and successor to the X-T20, inherits a lot of capabilities from the more expensive X-T3 and an updated version of the X-T20's body. Plus, Fujifilm throws in some refinements to the autofocus operation that should improve the experience.  

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The new Charcoal Silver model.

Fujifilm

Priced to directly compete against the M50 and the A6400, it serves up a similar set of features to both, though it hews closer to the better A6400 when it comes to performance cred. 

Fujifilm's retro style really does make it stand out compared with Canon's and Sony's more mundane body designs, but even devoted enthusiasts can be put off -- or scared off -- by the intimidating array of dials intended to trigger warm fuzzy feelings associated with old-school film cameras and miss the fact that you don't really have to use them if you don't want to. You can go full auto and still look cool.

The X-T30 will become available in the US near the end of March -- June for the snazzy new Charcoal Silver model -- at $900 for the body, $1,000 for a kit with the XC15-45mm f3.5-5.6 OIS PZ lens or $1,299 for the kit with the XF18-55mm f2.8-4 R LM OIS lens. Along with the camera, Fujifilm's rolling out a new fast prime lens, the $400 XF16mmF2.8 R WR.

We don't have pricing for availability for other regions, but the US prices directly convert to £700 and AU$1,270 for the body, £780 and AU$1,410 for the 15-45mm lens kit and £1,010 and AU$1,835 for the 18-55mm lens kit. The lens translates to about £310 and AU$565.

The biggest updates to the operation are enhancements to the accuracy of the face and eye detection autofocus, including the ability to spot faces that are farther away (i.e., smaller in the scene). You can now select a face via the touchscreen when there are multiple people in the scene, and there's improved autofocus speed because the AF processing can now walk and chew gum at the same time -- it doesn't have to stop using the on-sensor phase detection in order to measure the exposure again, for example.

These enhancements will make their way into the X-T3 via a firmware update coming this month, along with improvements to the responsiveness of the touchscreen. The company will also be releasing a new version of its mobile app.

The grip's thumb rest has been redesigned, and I'm not sure I like it -- the Quick menu button is now way too easy to hit with my thumb and the front grip still feels a little shallow. But the Focus Lever takes over navigational duties without a hitch, though it's a little twitchy like many of the multiway joysticks. The new touchscreen is a bit thinner than before, which let Fujifilm shave a little off the depth of the body. 

Otherwise, the camera uses the same sensor (so the same on-chip hybrid phase-detection/contrast-detection AF) and metering systems as the X-T3, has the same continuous-shooting speed but a smaller buffer (so fewer shots), slower flash synchronization speed, lower maximum video bit rate and so on. Those differences are subtleties that tend to distinguish between professional and enthusiast cameras.

Comparative specs

Canon EOS M50 Fujifilm X-T30 Sony A6400
Sensor effective resolution 24.1MP Dual Pixel CMOS 26.1MP X-Trans BSI CMOS 4 14-bit 24.2MP Exmor CMOS 14 bit
Sensor size 22.3 x 14.9mm 23.5 x 15.6mm 23.5 x 15.6mm
Focal-length multiplier 1.6x 1.5x 1.5x
OLPF Yes No Yes
Sensitivity range ISO 100 - ISO 25600/51200 (exp) ISO 80 (exp)/ISO 160 (exp)/200 - ISO 12800/51200 (exp) ISO 100 - ISO 32000/ISO 102400 (exp)
Burst shooting 7.4fps 47 JPEG (10fps with fixed focus and exposure; Servo AF not supported with raw) 8fps 90 JPEG/18 raw (20fps with eshutter) 11fps 99 JPEG/46 raw
Viewfinder (mag/ effective mag) EVF 0.4 in/10mm 2.4m dots 100% coverage n/a OLED EVF 0.4-inch/10mm 2.4m million dots 100% coverage .93/0.62x OLED EVF 0.4 in/10 mm 2.4 million dots 100% coverage 1.07x/0.7x
Hot shoe Yes Yes Yes
Autofocus 143 points phase-detection AF (with specific Canon lenses); 99 points 425-point phase-detection AF 91-area Contrast AF 425-point phase detection, 425-area contrast AF
AF sensitivity -2 - 18 EV -3 to n/a EV -2 - 20 EV
Shutter speed 30 - 1/4,000 sec.; bulb; 1/200 x-sync 30-1/4,000 sec. (1/32,000 sec with electronic shutter); bulb to 60 min; 1/180 sec x-sync 30-1/4,000 sec.; bulb; 1/160 x-sync
Metering 384 zones 256 zones 1,200 zones
Metering sensitivity 0 - 20 EV n/a -2 - 20 EV
Best video H.264 QuickTime MOV 4K UHD/24p at 120Mbps, 1080/60p, 720/120p H.264 QuickTime MOV DCI 4K/30p at 200Mbps; UHD 4K/30p at 200Mbps; 10-bit 4:2:0 internal, 4:2:2 external XAVC S at 100Mbps; UHD 4K/30p, 25p, 24p; 1080/120p
Audio Stereo; mic input Stereo; mic input, headphone jack Stereo, mic input
Manual aperture and shutter in video Yes Yes Yes
Maximum best-quality recording time per clip 4GB/29m59s 10 minutes n/a
Clean HDMI out Yes Yes Yes
IS Dual Sensing IS (Optical with gyro data sent from body) Optical Optical
Display 3-inch/7.7 cm Articulated touchscreen 1.04m dots 3 in/7.5 cm Multiangle tilting touch 1.04 million dots 3-inch/7.5cm Tilting, flip-up 921,600 dots
Memory slots 1 x SDXC 1 x SDXC 1 x SDXC
Wireless connection Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n), NFC, Bluetooth Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n), Bluetooth Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n), NFC, Bluetooth
Flash Yes Yes Yes
Wireless flash n/a Yes Yes
Battery life (CIPA rating) 235 shots (875 mAh) 380 shots (1,260 mAh) 360 (VF), 410 (LCD) (1,020 mAh)
Size (WHD) 4.6 x 3.5 x 2.3 in 116 x 88 x 59 mm 4.7 x 3.3 x 1.8 in 118 x 83 x 47 mm 4.8 x 2.8 x 2.4 in 120 x 67 x 60 mm
Body operating weight 13.8 oz (est.) 390 g (est.) 13.5 oz (est.) 383 g (est.) 14.3 oz (est.) 403 g (est.)
Mfr. price (body only) $779 (est.), £539.99, AU$899.95 (est.) $899 $899.99, £949, AU$1,499
Primary kit $899.99, £649.99, AU$949 (with 15-45mm lens) $999 (with 15-45mm zoom lens) $999.99, £999, AU$1,699 (with 16-50mm power zoom lens)
Release date April 2018 March 2019 January 2019