Fujifilm FinePix HS30EXR (Black) review:

Fujifilm FinePix HS30EXR (Black)

The LCD tilts from the body so you can see what you're shooting with the camera above or below eye level. It does not swing out to the side or rotate, though, so you can't use it for shooting from the side or framing shots if you're in front of the camera. There's an electronic viewfinder that is slightly larger and high resolution, which actually made it pleasurable to use. It's still small, but bigger and better than you'll find on competing models. Fujifilm built in a proximity sensor to the right of it as well, so as you bring the camera to your eye, and the view will quickly switch from the LCD to the EVF. On top of the eyepiece is a hot shoe for adding an external flash. The camera can be used with units that provide aperture adjustment, external metering, and sensitivity control.

Key specs Fujifilm FinePix HS30EXR
Price (MSRP) $449.99
Dimensions (WHD) 5.1x3.8x4.9 inches
Weight (with battery and media) 1.5 pounds
Megapixels, image sensor size, type 16 megapixels, 1/2-inch BSI EXR CMOS sensor
LCD size, resolution/viewfinder 3-inch LCD, 460K dots/Electronic
Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length) 30x, f2.8-5.6, 24-720mm (35mm equivalent)
File format (still/video) JPEG, raw (.RAF), raw+JPEG/MPEG-4 H.264/AVC (.MOV)
Highest resolution size (still/video) 4,608x3,456 pixels/1,920x1,080 at 30fps
Image stabilization type Mechanical and digital
Battery type, CIPA rated life Li ion rechargeable, 600 shots
Battery charged in camera No
Storage media SD/SDHC/SDXC
Bundled software MyFinePix Studio (Windows), FinePixViewer (Mac); RAW File Converter (Windows/Mac)

The lens is, of course, the main attraction here, going from an ultrawide-angle 24mm with a maximum aperture of f2.8, out to a very, very long 720mm with a maximum aperture of f5.6. The lens is threaded, too, for use with 58mm filters, and a lens hood is included.

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The manual zoom lens is unique and useful.

There is no motor for the zoom; it's manual, operated by rotating a wide lens ring. It's great for fast control when framing shots, and as the lens extends there are markings on the barrel and the lens ring so you can see your focal length. Since it is manual, you can use it while recording video, too. The movement is smooth, though you still may jerk the camera some when using it and if you're not careful you'll here a knock when the lens hits the 720mm mark. At the back of the lens where it meets the camera body is a manual focus ring.

General shooting options Fujifilm FinePix HS30EXR
ISO sensitivity (full resolution) Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
White balance Auto, Direct Sunlight, Shade, Daylight Fluorescent, Warm White Fluorescent, Cool White Fluorescent, Incandescent, Custom
Recording modes EXR Auto, Auto, Advanced, Scene 1, Scene 2, Motion Panorama, Program AE, Aperture priority, Shutter priority, Manual, Custom, Movie (Normal, High Speed)
Focus modes Single AF, Continuous AF, Manual, Macro, Super Macro; Center, Multi, Area, Tracking
Macro 2.7 inches (Wide); 6.5 feet (Tele); Super Macro 0.4 inch to 3.2 feet
Metering modes Multi, Center-weighted average, Spot
Color effects Standard, Vivid, Soft, Sepia, B&W
Burst mode shot limit (full resolution) 200 shots

Shooting modes range from Auto (with or without scene recognition) to semimanual and manual controls. In manual mode, available shutter speeds start at 30 seconds and go down to 1/4,000 second (though they're dependent on the ISO used); selectable apertures are f2.8, 3.2, 3.6, 4, 4.5, 5, 5.6, 6.4, 7.1, 8, 9, 10, and 11 at wide end, and f5.6, 6.4, 7.1, 8, 9, 10, and 11 at the long end. Again, because of the camera's control layout, using this camera outside of Auto is a pleasure; if you want fast access to settings, this is your point-and-shoot.

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The camera is fairly easy to use, though it can be tricky to remember what features are available to you in different modes.

Of course, Fujifilm includes its EXR options as well. These consist of High Resolution Priority, D-Range Priority, and High Sensitivity & Low Noise Priority. The High Resolution Priority setting uses the full 16-megapixel resolution for photos, while the other two shoot at 8 megapixels to improve dynamic range in high-contrast scenes or reduce noise in low-light photos. (Fujifilm's site has a full explanation of the EXR technology if you're interested.) If you're not sure which to use, there's an Auto EXR mode that includes scene recognition and that can also recognize which EXR Priority option to use. It's effective and reliable as long as you're OK with the possibility that you'll end up with 8-megapixel photos if the D-Range and High ISO & Low Noise Priority modes are used for your shot.

The Advanced mode gives you a few more tools to work with that take advantage of the camera's speedy sensor: Pro Low-light and Pro Focus. The Low-light mode snaps off several photos and then combines them into one lower-noise photo, while the Pro Focus creates a shallow depth of field by digitally blurring the background. (The former works better than the latter.) In this mode you'll also find a cool multiple exposure option that lets you layer one shot on top of another.

That's just some of the things you can do with this camera. For more details you can check out my sample picture slideshow, or visit Fujifilm's site.

Conclusion: Recommended

The Fujifilm FinePix HS30EXR is a near-excellent megazoom camera. To me, this camera seems more geared toward advanced users who appreciate the extras like a hot shoe, direct controls of settings, and raw support. But these are also users who would expect the best photo quality to go along with those options and that just not here. That's not to say that it can't take some very good photos; it can. But you'll have to work with it and understand that even still, you won't be getting digital SLR quality just because of the way it looks.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Time to first shot  
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Shutter lag (dim)  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V
Fujifilm FinePix HS30EXR
Nikon Coolpix P510
Canon PowerShot SX40 HS

Typical continuous-shooting speed (in frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Typical continuous-shooting speed  

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