I have owned and used both the X10 and the X20. I really loved their versatility and dedicated super-macro mode as well as the very handy f/2-2.8 zoom lens with a broad range of 7.1-28.4mm (28-112mm full frame eq.) But in the end I always ended up selling them off because I always used the X100 series instead.
When the X30 came out Fujifilm decided to get rid of the little optical viewfinder of the X10/X20 (which really wasn’t all that good to begin with! I always wanted it to be more like the X100 viewfinder) and go all EVF. They changed the design language a bit, making it more stringent in the design. An odd mixture of 80’s/modern/retro. I like it, but that is entirely subjective, so I will not be getting into that.
This leads me to the next thing. This review is NOT like my usual reviews. This review is based upon a specific problem where the X30 suddenly presented itself as a brilliant solution. The camera has been out for a while, and a lot of other review sites have already said what needs to be said about this camera. For all the technical details I advise you to seek out these other reviews.
So what was this problem? Well. I’m an avid listener of Rock music. Being brought up to the sounds of Jimi Hendrix, Deep Purple, The Who and Van Halen, it was only a matter of time since I myself picked up the guitar. I have played since age 14 and my musical tastes clearly reflect this fact.
I listen to Rock! Heavy rock! Heavy guitar ridden rock!!!
Attending rock concerts in this day and age, you are often allowed to bring your pocket camera/smartphone. But I was never happy with the iPhone images I brought home from these concerts. So I had a sit down with my cerebral cortex.
The (Potential) Solution
“What about the X30, Jonas??? Thats a pocket camera, right? And it has this great zoom range! And the lens is actually pretty fast!……… but that 2/3″ sensor might present a noise issue….BUT it will perform better than any smartphone, thats for sure!!”
I contacted Fujifilm Nordic (being an official X-Photographer does have its perks) and asked if I could have an X30 sent over for testing. As always they were supportive of my crazy ideas, and sent over a test unit.
I then proceeded to booking tickets for Zakk Wylde’s Black Label Society, which had a great warmup in the form of Crobot. Two bands that I REALLY like. I also booked tickets for a danish band called “Electric Guitars” at a later date, at a different, smaller, club-like venue.
So off I went in my skinny black jeans, black T-shirt, boots and general rock ‘n roll attitude! I had the little X30 i my right hand back pocket with a small Gordys wrist-strap, and my wallet in the other. Thats it! No zooms no wide angles, no camera bag. no NOTHING!
So this will of course be mostly about the low-light performance. An area where the bigger APS-C sized Fujifilm X-series cameras excel to an amazing level. How does the much smaller 2/3″ sensor stack up? Well it has more noise. Thats a given. But is the noise of an acceptable quality? What I like about the bigger X-Trans sensors is the very organic looking grain. It doesn’t take on the usual appearance of chromatic colornoise.
The X30 to an extent has these traits. But what I found is that I really needed to stay below ISO1600, and preferably around ISO800. The files from these levels contain an acceptable amount of grain, that if converted to black and white gives the images a great look.
The Lens is stabilised. Something that gives you a couple of extra stops of light without getting too much motion blur. This is perfect when balancing the camera in one hand over the audience zoomed to 112mm and holding a pint in the other hand!
Remember, that I was at these concerts as a normal attendee. I had no special access to anything. So the images are taken from a slightly left-handed side of the stage in the 2nd row of the crowd. The lens has incredible reach from here. You can really produce some closeups even from a distance.
Color accuracy is great! Even at the high ISO’s the lacking light did not prevent me from getting vibrant colors from the stage lighting. I used a mixture of the Classic Chrome setting, and lifting the vibrancy slightly in post. Classic Chrome is great for the gritty feel I wanted in my Rock concert images.
The samples galleries are split into 3 – Crobot performance, Black Label Society performance and Electric Guitars performance.
Crobot – X30
Black Label Society – X30
Electric Guitars – X30
The camera did an amazing job at these concerts. It was handy, stealthy, versatile, and best of all it delivered GREAT pictures that I simply couldn’t have achieved with a cellphone or the likes. So the next time you need to capture your memories of a great concert or festival, where only smartphones or pocket-cams are allowed, I wouldn’t hesitate one bit in recommending the X30 for this particular task. So go ahead, and ROCK OUT!