Is this an attractive waterproof camera I see before me?
With apologies to Shakespeare, the Fujifilm FinePix XP30 could possibly be the best-looking rugged camera around. It's slim, compact and has a decent grip-to-curves ratio, with a soft-touch plastic casing around parts of the body.
On to the key specifications, which take in a 14.2-megapixel CCD sensor, 2.7-inch LCD screen and waterproofing down to 5 metres, shockproofing from 1.5m, freezeproofing to -10 degrees Celsius and dustproofing. There's also a GPS on-board for capturing location information alongside images, for plotting on maps and recording trip details post-adventure. Shooting modes include the regular automatic and scene options, motion panorama and underwater just to name a few.
The XP30 also sports a 5x optical zoom lens with an internal mechanism, opening to 28mm at its widest end. All this sounds good so far, though there is one rather glaring design fault: when the XP30 is dropped or even nudged a little too hard, the battery/card compartment door opens. Time to invest in a double-locking door like that found on the bigger Olympus TG-810.
The buttons are placed within easy-enough reach, and there's a simple array of controls with a dedicated video record button, four-way directional pad and a decent little zoom rocker on the top. Connectivity is via one small proprietary mini-USB port underneath a flap on the side. The XP30 is compatible with SD/SDHC/SDXC cards.
Like the other Fuji camera we recently tested, the GPS unit in the XP30 is quick to lock on to a location when there's no obstructions like trees or buildings in the way. It takes approximately one minute to get a signal for the first time or in a new area, which reduces dramatically to approximately 10 seconds when the camera is turned off or repositioned. Users have the option of keeping the GPS permanently switched on, even when the camera is powered off, maintaining tracking data or displaying location data (where applicable) on the screen.
An example of plotting location data on Google Maps using Picasa and an image from the XP30. (Screenshot by CBSi)
|Panasonic Lumix FT10||Olympus Tough 6010||Fujifilm XP30|
|14 megapixels||12 megapixels||14.2 megapixels|
|2.7-inch, 230,000-dot LCD||2.7-inch, 230,000-dot LCD||2.7-inch, 230,000-dot LCD|
|Waterproof to 3m, drop proof to 1.5m, freeze proof to -10 degrees Celsius||Waterproof to 3m, drop proof to 1.5m, freeze proof to -10 degrees Celsius||Waterproof to 5m, drop proof to 1.5m, freeze proof to -10 degrees Celsius|
|HD video (720p, motion JPEG)||Video (VGA resolution, motion JPEG)||HD video (720p, motion JPEG)|
The images from the XP30 are fine for using at a reduced resolution, such as for web display, but definitely aren't up to scratch for large prints or cropping extensively. When viewed at full magnification, detail is lost and looks over-processed, whereas colours start to shift slightly. Even low ISO levels suffer from over-processing.
Focusing too also feels a little cumbersome, as sometimes the AF will lock on to an appropriate target, but sometimes it won't. Image stabilisation also feels hit-and-miss, particularly at shutter speeds of 1/60 and below. The lens produces visible distortion at the wide-end when composing images on the screen, though this levels out when images are taken as the XP30 must automatically correct some barrel distortion during processing.
Colour rendition, on the other hand, is decent with a good amount of saturation across all channels.
Video quality is very poor, despite being at 720p. The image is grainy and lacking detail, and the less said about the microphone the better. It exhibits a really strong hissing noise and hardly picks up any other audio at all.
Exposure: 1/420, f/4.9, ISO 100
Exposure: 1/250, f/3.9, ISO 100
Exposure: 1/150, f/3.9, ISO 100
Exposure: 1/150, f/3.9, ISO 100
The XP30 is a jack of all trades, master of none. Its rugged credentials can't make up for its average image quality and troublesome side-locking door.