on 16 January 2013
I have been a semi-pro photographer -part of my job in Tech Pubs- since 1968, mostly industrial with weddings and things on the side at weekends when I could not get out of them.
I also was on-call working freelance for a couple of local papers.
So you could say I have an idea of what makes a good camera. Well I don't, as every job might require a different camera or lens be it 35mm or 120 which turns out to be a real lump to carry around. I still lean to the right from the weight of the camera bag.
That was then but this is now.
I retired early finding myself in the digital age which I had embraced early with enthusiasm, ending up with a couple of Canon 20D's, a range of lenses and all the paraphernalia that goes with them, which still serve me well.
Not the sort of kit to carry around for your own use.
When it first came out, I bought for myself a Fuji 9600 followed later by the HS10, both of which filled my need for a "Jack of all trades" but NOT a master of none camera.
The 9600 I gave to my partners youngest daughter for school course work when I upgraded.
I had the 9600 for a number of years and had taken a load of pictures with it, but it was still in mint condition.
A couple of months with it's new owner and it looked like it had been through a war, but it still worked fine.
The HS10 I traded in locally against a HS30 having been offered a good deal.
Being lazy, I just set the camera on the EXR mode, jpg mode only and bang away. So far every picture has been usable and excellent quality. Night shots a dream especially in black and white.
I took a photo of a couple of crows on the spire of my local Town Hall. Despite the freezing cold, and I had left my gloves at home and I was standing in shade when I tried the shot.
With my hands shaking badly and a shutter speed of 1/280 @ f8 on 100 asa with 720 mm zoom, the picture came out better than I hoped with colours that made me think, 'How on earth do they do that'. The photo produced was not centered as I had intended due to my hand shaking, which shows how cold it was and how good the anti-shake system on the camera is. I would say the picture was 95% sharp or better.
With low light I do not find that a problem. In fact there is little to worry about if you are of an average user. But there are those who would complain that when blowing the image up to 100% they can see grain. They then go on to compare the camera with one that is two to three time the cost.
What do they expect with a £250 camera? Print that image at A4 or even A3 and they should have no complaints.
HD video is also excellent, with good low light ability. I have also been taking digital video for about 30 years when the video recorder was separate and joined by cable to the camera, which was then a Sony with only a 5X zoom and used full size video tapes. Video quality by todays standard was crap but better that Super8 film.
A lot of HS30 YouTube reviewers have the camera panning too fast and as a result is a bit of a frame show and have to be taken with a pinch of salt. The worst thing is that the reviewers never learn and often blame the camera. If you pan too fast with any mid range camera/camcorder it does not give the auto focus time to settle and the video will go in and out of focus under certain conditions.
Perhaps they just don't have the intellect to use the manual focus.
The worst of all is some of the comments to their movie say how good the reviewer's video is. The blind leading the blind.
By comparison, in 1969 I bought a Pentax Spotmatic 2, f1.4 50mm, 35mm film camera secondhand for £195. A BMC Mini new cost nearly £700. Work it out in todays pricing.
With the HS30 costing under £250(how much does a new Mini cost now?) you get a lot of bang for your buck. I won't go into the spec but just to say the camera is well made and feels solid, has great optics and so many functions that you would probably never use. You get a hell of a lot of camera for your money.
I would quite happily have use this camera on a photo shoot, but a client would have expected you to turn up with a bag of cameras and lenses to seem to get their money's worth.
If only I could have had one back in 1968.
I would be walking upright now.
on 16 April 2012
My new Fuji HS30EXR is a great improvement on it's predecessors,the HS10,the HS20EXR,and I have owned them both!
It's faster to use,a better EVF,(although it could still be better!)an improved EXR sensor,and faster focussing.
Even the rear lcd,which was one of the best I've used,has been subtly improved,and you can digitally extend the lens to a massive 60X if needed,and the results are surprisingly good,great for nature shots,but a tripod is recommended!
Prints are sharp and colourful,and even the video's better!
You can save your favourite settings now,and there's plenty of functions to experiment with,and I particularly liked the "Pro-focus" advanced setting,which takes two pictures at the same time,one the main subject,and one out of focus image of the background.This results in particularly good results in flower and portrait images.
And the new rechargeable battery lasts almost twice as long as the previous 4 AAs fitted to the HS/10/20,and is also lighter,and will last you for about 600+ images,plenty for a the keenest photographer,and better than some DSLRs,and most of the competition in the "Bridge Camera" world.
We know that at really big blowups,(above A4 or A3),a DSLR sensor is better,but at lower magnifications,these Fuji cameras can produce the goods,and the HS30 is better now at higher ISOs.
I recently sold my Pentax DSLR,because,although it produced some great results,the Fuji cameras are just so much more convenient,and I just never used it!
My HS30 can tackle about anything I come across,and I so I don't need a heavy camera bag,and a heavy DSLR,and expensive extra lenses,to lug about.
Obviously on country walks,and holidays this camera is a boon,so well done Fuji!!
on 28 April 2012
Previous Cameras include a Minolta Konica bridge camera of 10 years ago, panasonic compact TZ6 and a panasonic G1 4:3 with 2 lenses. These affect my opinion of this camera. I traded the G1 because of the inconvenience of changing lenses. The tilting lcd screen is useful for low level close-ups of flowers and for holding the camera high above the head but it only tilts in one plane and so does not tilt in portrait format and neither can it be folded with the screen towards the camera to protect it while being carried about. Both the old Minolta and the G1 had universally angled screens and folded to protect the screen when not in use and I miss this ability. The screen itself is fair and reasonably bright. The alternative viewfinder is useful in bright sunlight when reflections make the LCD screen difficult to use but the definition is not great. The close up capabilities of the HS30EXR are impressive and have not been bettered by any of the other cameras mentioned. However the sharpness of the images falls off gradually as the lens is zoomed even with a tripod and the timer set so that pressing the button does not cause movement and I am slightly disappointed with this. The camera is zoomed manually which is far quicker and precise for framing a shot than any motor zoom I have tried and I feel that this is a great plus point and probably reduces drain on the battery by a considerable amount. The battery supplied with the camera lasts very well on a charge but like most similar batteries for other camera makes a branded spare is expensive. Unbranded ones are obtainable at quite reasonable prices and the one I have bought seems to be lasting well on its first charge.The manual focus is a disappointment mainly because of the definition of the screen and viewfinder. The G1 was far superior in this respect and even the old Minolta was better. Why is this important? If you want to focus on an animal behind a fence or foliage then autofocus will give you a nice sharp fence or grass frond and a blured animal. A further downside for me was that, to be able to make use of this camera's RAW image format, I had to upgrade my Adobe Lightroom 3 to Lightroom 4 as the earlier version did not recognise the Fuji files. RAW handling comes with the camera's software but when you have past images in a particular software's catalogue it is difficult to have to start over again. This camera is reasonably convenient to carry, does away with the need to carry and change lenses and seems to be robust. The lens has a thread to enable the use of protective or effect filters which is not the case in all the cameras in this class. It has many manual options but is capable of intelligent point and shoot. It also has HD video and so is a versatile tool. So long as there is not too much ambition for big enlargements then this should fit the bill. Talking of bills the price is very competitive.
on 5 January 2013
I've had SLR cameras and, by and large, they are great. That is if you don't mind lugging around all the accessories. Often the time taken changing the lens means you miss the shot. This is not an SLR but it is the closest camera to one. I had the HS20EXR but this is better. A4 prints are spot on and, if you are a purist, run the file through Photoshop. Buy an SLR with a couple of decent zoom lenses and you will be pushing the £1000 mark. This costs less than a quarter of that and even a complete novice will get good results. Long battery life, immense zoom, compact body and great results. Save the extra £750 and put is towards a holiday. You will never regret the purchase. That is unless you think it is reasonable to compare the performance of a Mazda MX5 with and Aston Martin DB9. Both get you there and are a lot of fun but one doesn't require you to leave your left leg as a deposit!
on 20 July 2012
I haven't really had time to wear this one in, but here are my initial thoughts. Thus far this camera is amazing for what I paid. The price seems to have gone up since then but it's still an extraordinary deal. This approaches SLR quality yet is around £200 cheaper than a basic SLR. It should be noted though that this is basically the same camera as the Fujifilm FinePix HS25EXR except that that one takes AA batteries while this one has its own brand. Also, the SDHC Card on this one isn't located in the same compartment as the battery so every time you change the card the camera doesn't turn itself off. I really hate that space-saving feature on a lot of cameras these days.
I'm coming onto this from a Fujifilm FinePix JZ300, which was nice except that I wore out the rubber on the zoom lens through overuse. I can tell I won't have that problem on this one since the lens doesn't move in and out every time I turn on the camera. In fact the zoom lens is adjusted mechanically by twisting it, a must for me since it allows for greater control and accuracy. This camera has a 30x lens which allows for incredible closeups. It's basically like having binoculars hooked up to the front of your camera. I was able to zoom in and make out a hawk in the distance that I just plain couldn't see with my own eyes. This incredible zoom just makes it all the more unforgivable that the camera has a plastic tripod screw. How on earth can you make a camera with a 30x zoom and not expect people to use it with a tripod?
This isn't an SLR but it's close. The lens is built in and unchangeable, but it's good enough that only real pros would need a different one. It even has decent macro settings. The settings do take a little fiddling with to get them to work right. The manual isn't particularly helpful in this regard. But the automatic mode (EXR) is pretty basic to use and does a good job of determining the proper settings to take the best picture. Once you figure out how to use it manual mode works very well. Changing the aperture and the shutter speed is pretty simple and there is a manual focus dial that makes it quite easy to use. The ISO and aperture are adjusted though a dial next to the mode dial while the focus is on the lens itself. Only complaint here is that the viewscreen doesn't show you the picture you'll actually take but just the view out of the lens. That means it'll take a lot of practice to get good shots out of this. Fortunately it takes pictures really quick so you can try quite a lot of things in a short period of time.
There are nine other modes to chose from but those are the only two I really bother with. Panorama mode is really cool when it works, which it usually doesn't. Having the gyroscope on is essential for this. It is rather more successful when recording a less than 360° view. I may get more use from this mode when I actually go somewhere worth getting a panoramic view of, but for now it's just a waste. I have a panoramic app on my iPhone that's a lot less finicky. Another mode takes 3d pics which seems cool but is just sort of gimmicky. Also there are two modes which are basically half of manual mode: one of which has auto aperture but manual shutter speed and the other mode has the inverse. Apart from these you're better off just sticking to automatic. Surprisingly the video mode isn't located on the dial but has its own dedicated button. This allows you to take photos while you're using the video camera. Pretty cool. It records in 1080p which is bluray quality video. It all looks pretty good. Only thing is that it only records video for 29 minutes at a time, so if you're thinking this can replace a dedicated video camera then you're gonna be disappointed. No I don't know why it won't record an even 30, it just doesn't.
So, gidgets that I like about this camera: it has a gyroscope that helps you keep the camera level which is very useful for horizon shots. It flips vertically when you turn the camera on its side. There's an anti-blur feature which is useful but rarely seems to do much. It's a bit hard to tell whether it's working. Like all fujifilm cameras nowadays it features facial recognition software which works quite well unless there are multiple (or occasionally no) faces in shot. There are USB and HDMI outputs hidden under a panel in the side which are useful for displaying your photos over a TV or computer. The other side holds the memory card and the battery in two separate compartments. I've heard people have problem with the flash, but that hasn't happened to mine yet. It does need to be manually opened and one of the more annoying features of silent mode is that it turns the flash off too. It does feature a slot on the top for an external flash which may be useful as the built in one isn't very impressive. I like having a viewfinder that I can look down but I wish it stuck out since my nose keeps rubbing against the main viewscreen. There is a light sensor next to the viewfinder that determines whether you're looking through that or using the main screen. It tends to switch back and forth whenever you move your hand so I just set it to stick on one or the other. The viewscreen has a pretty awesome feature that lets you pop it out so that you can see it while holding the camera at an angle. This hasn't come in useful yet but I'm sure it'll come in handy later. If you ever need to shoot over something this feature will be a lifesaver. The camera comes with a reasonably good strap but not with a case (at least mine didn't). You're gonna want to get one as when you have the strap around your neck the camera knocks back and forth against its viewscreen.
Most of the minor problems are pretty minor. There is no way to charge the battery without removing it or to plug the camera in and use it though a wall outlet. Some of the controls are hard to figure out. The zoom is so powerful that you can easily zoom too far and get blurry photos if you don't watch out. And as previously mentioned the tripod screw is made of plastic and will not last. But aside from that it's a really excellent device. I'll be updating this over time as I get a better feel for it's capabilities, but thus far I've had no problems. A good buy.
on 8 May 2012
My last "proper" camera was an Olympus OM2 SP and it's been 10+ years since I've owned a SLR. After deciding to buy a new camera, I read some reviews and decided to go for this model. I'm glad I did! This camera has re-awakened my interest in photography, having all of the operating modes that one could wish for. The lens is fantastic: you'd have to carry at least two separate DSLR lenses to cover the zoom range that the HS30 EXR offers. The manual is comprehensive and easy to understand.
I'd advise anyone buying this camera to update the firmware, which is a quick and simple procedure, and addresses the issue of overexposure in some circumstances. Other must haves are a spare battery, remote release and a UV filter to protect the front lens element. These will add only £50 to your outlay. This camera has been instrumental in me being bitten by the photography bug again. Buy with confidence!
on 6 June 2012
I bought the HS30 after having had a Fuji Finepix s6500fd for approximately 6 years. The s6500 was a 6MP bridge camera and took very good photos. I was looking for something with a bigger range of settings as well as taking bigger Mega Pixel photos. When I first got the camera I was a bit disappointed in that there was quite a bit of noise in my initial shots, however no more than my old s6500fd (after doing a head to head) and I thought it was perhaps due to my lack of knowledge about the camera's settings. I then took the new camera to a family wedding and the camera really started showing its class. I took about 150 shots and the results were pretty impressive, even when taking zoomed shots from long range. It's also pretty fast at taking and processing the images (perhaps 2-3 times as fast as my old camera).
The only problem I have with it is that the lens barrel is slightly narrower than the s6500 meaning that in low light/indoor (no flash) it captures less light than the s6500 meaning that it needs a lower shutter speed to capture the same light as the s6500, this sometimes leads to blurred shots, and a conundrum where you have to increase the ISO sensor speed to get a decent low light/no-flash shot, but the noise in the photo then becomes more apparent. For me thats manageable since all I am doing is looking at my photos on a computer/tablet and publishing to websites/Facebook. For more professional uses this low light issue may be a show stopper, and going for a camera with a larger sensor might be a better option.
Overall I would say its a pretty decent camera for the price, if you're looking for something near-SLR like then the Finepix X-S1 is definitely a step up, but it is £200 more expensive and is much larger physically (which I wasn't willing to put up with as I want to be able to take my camera in a small bag on holiday).
Another tip is while its much cheaper to buy these cameras online through Amazon I would definitely check the camera out in person in a shop first as the use of a camera involves so many physical aspects that you just cannot make an informed decision by pictures on the web alone.
on 4 May 2012
I have had a Fuji 9500 since 2006. Time for an upgrade. The HS30 produces better quality photographs and is a lot quicker focusing than the 9500. A bigger screen is much appreciated and the zoom has to be seen to be believed! Full HD video is really useful, as is the ability to take photo's whilst filming. Low light mode is very impresive. The HS30 advertises up to F11, but that is for some reason only in Manual mode, not Shutter priority or Apeature priority (where F8 is the max). I find that for moving subjects, multiple capture is better than a signle capture as there is a 1 second delay when pressing the shutter half way down- the 9500 didn't suffer this. Also in S or A mode, you cant see both shutter speed and F number until the button is half pressed down. There is an annoying lip on the casing which gets in the way of the turning dial. I don't like the battery blocks as with the AAs I use, they are much higher in capacity and if you do run out, there is always a shop or garage nearby with some.
As with all cameras, it takes getting use to. A huge improvement on my 9500. I've had it about 3 weeks now with no major issues.
Update Nov 2012: Getting on fine, but the slowness is an issue. I have missed shots as my findger has been all the way down on the button but it is still faffing about processing the last photo. I use the top speed Kingston card. Even changing modes takes a while- like changing from S to A takes about 3-4 seconds before you can take a photo. Low light mode is superb. Video is annoying as the middle of the screen wobbles/bulges out at you. Switching off anti-blur seems to make no difference in video mode. Auto-focusing during filming is also poor. Overall, the slow overall speed knocks it down from 4 to 3 stars. Regretfully, it's going to have to be replaced with something faster.
on 7 June 2013
I actually took a step down from a DSLR to this camera and while I still hanker after the DSLR from time to time, what I don't miss is the faffing about looking for different lenses!
This camera is highly versatile, great for everything from a macro of a daisy in grass to taking close ups of action at the far end of a rugby pitch.
I will say this though, it's taken a fair amount of time and experimentation to get the camera doing what I want to do, but now that I have the knack of it, it's all good.
For the money you pay for this, you certainly wouldn't do any better in terms of a feature loaded bridge camera. If you don't like to experiment with the manual settings yourself, there are plenty of automated options to keep you happy and give you results that look great. EXR is by far the best fully auto setting I have come across in any camera, offering great results in all conditions. The "Pro-focus" gives great results if you have a very steady hand - basically it puts the subject in sharp focus and everything in the background out of focus, much like reportage style photography. The only drawback is if you look close enough at the results on a HD monitor you can see where the software has been at work. A very minor grumble as the printed images give no hint of the processor's black magic! All that said, there are so many options that all you need to do is just point and click and let the camera do all the work, if you so choose.
All in all, three months in with this and I'm really happy with my purchase. It feels good in my hands, if a wee bit smaller than a DSLR, looks the part and the manual zoom ring offers so much control it is brilliant for sports photography.
on 25 June 2012
I bought this camera as an update to my Fujifilm S9600. It is absolutely brilliant. I am not a photographer but I like the extra control over my photos that a bridge camera offers. I was pleased with my S9600 but this camera seems so much easier to use. There are several automatic modes so if that is what you want, you won't be disappointed. However this camera will do so much more. The control you can have over your photos seems to be endless. If you are looking at a DSLR but do not like the idea of having to change lenses or in fact you do not like the prices charged, the HS30EXR may be just what you want. It has most of the controls you will find on a DSLR. Automatic modes, shutter priority, aperture priority, full manual mode plus a massive 30 times zoom and an impressive 16mp photo size, and I think nice sharp pictures. The list is endless, how can you want more. I am still learning how to use this camera but so far I am very pleased with it.