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Fujifilm F30 point and shoot

Always in search of a compact digicam whose quality is better than mediocre (as compared to a DSLR), my Fujifilm FinePix F30 arrived today, a 6.1 megapixel (2848 X 2136) digicam.

While I really like my Panasonic Lumix FX01, it has so much noise as to be marginal past ISO 200, and that makes it a sunny-day-only camera. The Fuji F30 promises much lower noise, and so far that seems to be true—except that it lacks image stabilization, so the net result is unclear as yet. Sensor sizes— The F30 has a relatively large 1/1.7" CCD, which is 7.6 X 5.7mm in size, as compared with the 1/2.5" (5.76 X 4.29mm) CCD in the Lumix FX01, or 75% larger, which should inherently yield less noises.

The FinePix F30 is noticeably chunkier than the Panasonic Lumix FX01, with a larger battery too. Yet it still easily fits in a pocket. It takes second place to the Lumix FX01 in the “cute and elegant” department.

The annoyance of an xD Picture Card can be tolerated, but SD cards are preferred for me, since they can be interchanged among more cameras, including my Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II. Shutter delay is absolutely minimal, provided pre-focus is done (and focus hunting is not too uncommon).

The Finepix F30 has manual controls, and both aperture and shutter priority, my major gripe about the Lumix FX01—you’re forced to improvise to get what you want (see also Consumer Digicams and Diffraction).

Unfortunately, the optical performance of the F30 is marred by color fringing, at least at the wide end (see below). Some of it appears to be sensor “blooming” and some appears to be actual optical chromatic aberration. Whether this is characteristic of the camera design, or whether my particular copy has misaligned optics is not clear. At any rate, the F30’s 36mm “wide” angle (equivalent) feels very restrictive compared to the Panasonic Lumix FX01 (28mm equivalent). The Lumix FX01 might have some color fringing, but somehow it’s much more objectionable with the FinePix F30. To be fair, the Lumix FX01 also produces very blurry corner performance in some cases.

Fuji F30 Color Fringing (wide angle, 8mm)

I also have a Casio Exilim Z1000 coming (1/1.8" CCD, slightly smaller than the FinePix F30 but with 10 megapixels). Casio claims low noise and high dynamic range. You betcha! I’ll believe it when I see it for myself.

Either the Exilim Z1000 or the FinePix F30 (or possibly both) will be headed back if they can’t beat the convenience and sheer fun factor of the Lumix FX01, or at the very least produce superior image quality in terms of noise, sharpness and other characteristics.

When are these camera manufacturers going to figure out that excellent design, decent-sized CCD, and superb optics can sell cameras too? I want a camera the size of the Lumix FX01 with a 3" 400,000 pixel screen, a 1/1.7" CCD, aperture priority, adjustable fill-flash and a 24-105 equivalent. And please throw in a built-in polarizer too! While they’re at it, a pure infrared model would be nice, with optics designed for infrared.

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