A Brief Review of My New Finepix F30

The day before I left for MAX, after dropping The Beaner off at sharecare, I went to the local CBOP Photo store and asked to look at point-and-shoot cameras that were small enough to carry in a pocket, that had image stabilization, and had the shortest shutter delay possible. I was shown three cameras: the Nikon Coolpix S7c, I think one from Casio, and the Fujifilm Finepix F30. I had also wanted to look at the Sony DSC-T9, but the store didn't carry any cameras from Sony.

Long story short, I narrowed it down to the Finepix. Even though the Finepix was a bit thicker and heavier than the other two cameras, I liked its ergonomics better (it was easier to hold, and the menu navigation was more precise), and I knew that my friends Jean & Sho got some really great shots with their Finepix F10. I also preferred the cables for charging the camera and downloading the photos to the cradles that were offered with the other two cameras (I often download photos on the road, and I'd rather pack cables than cradles). The Nikon really was a serious contender; I liked the thinness and lightness of it, and the LCD screen on the back was HUGE, but the placement of the non-extending lens meant that I was often sticking my finger in front of it. It's something you'd notice, obviously, if you were carefully lining up a shot, but the whole idea with a point-and-shoot is to snap quickly.

Which brings me to the biggest drawback of the Finepix, though it's a problem with every other point-and-shoot digital as well: the shutter delay. After shooting with the Canon 10D for so long, I can't get used to the gap between when I press the shutter release and when the camera actually captures the picture. The delay, though much shorter than with my old Olympus 3030Zoom, is still deadly when trying to capture the expressions and antics of a toddler.

missed opportunity because of shutter delay
He was looking at me a second ago, I swear!

The other problem I have with the F30 is the huge amount of digital noise in most low-light (and some not-so-low-light) photos. There might be a setting I can change to ameliorate this problem, and to be fair, the 10D also generates a significant amount of noise whenever I shoot in apeture priority or shutter priority modes, but it seems like the F30 could be a lot smoother when everything's set to Auto. (Click on the photos below to see larger versions on Flickr, where the noise will be really obvious.)

me and the beaner, with halloween shadows my favorite moo cards, set #3
lots of noise with low light (left) and not so low light (right)

OK, so now for all the things I *do* like about the F30 . First of all, it's small. It's not quite so small that it can fit in my back pocket without me noticing it, as my cell phone can, but it easily fits in my purse, my coat pocket, or even the front pocket of my jeans. Second, while its shutter delay makes capturing toddler antics extremely difficult, its movie mode is amazing for the same purpose. It records sound well, the picture is incredibly sharp, and with a 1G XD memory card, I can record longer than I can actually hold the camera up.

This one goes out to all my fans in Hoboken.

Third, the built-in flash is excellent. Fuji prides itself on its flash technology, and rightfully so. I've never seen light look so natural with a flash before, and it does a fantastic job of lighting not only the subject, but the background as well. The Canon's built-in flash is dreadful by comparison.

John is a member of my tribe

Finally, downloading the photos and movies from the camera is wicked fast. I'm not sure if this is a function of the camera hardware or the type of memory (XD for the Finepix vs. Compact Flash for the 10D), but downloading is much faster for the Fuji than for the Canon.

Overall, I've been happy with my choice, although it would have been cool if I could have road-tested a few different cameras for a week and *then* chosen which one I wanted to buy. I imagine I'll have more raves and complaints about the F30 once I've been using it for a while, but I think I can guarantee that owning the F30 means that there'll be more Beaner videos on this site.

Posted by Lori in parenthood and photography and technically speaking at 12:28 PM on November 5, 2006