A first user review of the Fujifilm X-T30 vs. X-T20 vs. X-T3

There ain't no party like an X-T30 party

As soon as the X-T3 was released, I don't know anyone who was more excited for the Fujifilm X-T30 to exist than me, which is probably exactly why Fujifilm threw the prototype at my  rabid frothing jaws, to rid themselves of the small whine in their ear "but joystick....does it have a joystick...can you check if it has a joyst-"

I bought the X-T20 after missing the flip screen with the X-E3, but I instantly felt the burn of a D-Pad, having gotten used to the amazing joystick on the X-T series. The X-E3 and X-T20 are incredible in their own right, but for someone who constantly shoots with two of the same bodies professionally and relies on the habitual muscle memory to ensure a speedy reaction to candid moments, having my perfect camera straddled across two models was slightly frustrating.

So in short I totally lost my cool when I discovered that the Fujifilm X-T30 was everything I'd personally been waiting for. The travel friendly size and sweet AF aesthetic of the X-T20, the image sensor I love in the X-T3, the flipscreen I consider a necessity and (yippee ki yay) the joystick to finish my perfect camera. Before I go into some specs detail, let's take a sec to bask in its glory.

Differences between the Fujifilm X-T30 vs. X-T3

As I said, I'm a dual X-T3 shooter, and as a stills only gal luckily for me the X-T30 retained all the bits I personally needed from the X-T3.

  • The back end menu will feel near identical
  • It has the same X-processor 4
  • It includes the 16 film simulations including the new Eterna
  • It inherits a slightly superior AF to the X-T3 which is due to be added to the X-T3 in May, superior eye and face AF... <--incredible!
 

It's basically the X-T3 in a smaller more pocketable body. The only differences are as follows:

  • Slower max shutter speed (1/4000 vs. the X-T3's 1/8000)
  • A slightly slower frame rate on the 4k video (so you can't do slow-mo)
  • Two way tilt screen instead of three way
  • The ordering of the top dials, you lose the iso dial of the X-T3, it's the same as the X-T20
  • It doesn't have the EF shutter of the X-T3, just the E and M

To get an empirically accurate idea of its size, here it is next to a small female thumbs up. My small hand makes it look bigger than it is, it's actually tiny and weighs 383g.

And here's the photo you actually want of it next to the X-T3

I feel this is the ideal camera for any professional to carry as a back up in their bag to their X-T3, or for anyone who does photography where they need to prioritise ease of transport in their kit needs...street photographers, bloggers, journalists, outdoor portraits etc. this camera is about to become your best friend.

Do I need to get this if I have the X-T20?

The X-T20 has the same sensor as the X-T2, and the Fujifilm X-T30 follows the same mimic pattern but with the X-T3. And a joystick. So yes, I personally feel the merging of the tilt screen and the joystick is enough to commit to the Fujifilm X-T30, before we even start on the AF, sensor and film sims. I'm a believer that to enjoy and be comfortable with the handling of a camera is a big part of the photography experience.

The Fujifilm X-T30 will look the same as the X-T20 when its not being shot (they've moved the Q button at the back to the thumb grip and made that thumb grip larger), but as soon as you start shooting with it you'll know the difference. It is honestly an incredible thing to witness that Fujfilm gave so much of their flagship camera into a smaller cheaper body, that it even made me question "should they be giving this much away?". Before I knew the specs, I assumed they'd hold back on something like AF vs. the X-T3 but they didn't!

How it worked for me

This is a review of the prototype, so there's a few things I'm not 100% sure of what will be in the release, but I know even with this incomplete version in my hands, that the Fujifilm X-T30 will be an integral part of my life.

Combined with the 35 f2 conical lens, which I'd never tried before, it was a real everyday dream to shoot. I have shot it with my usual 56 1.2 and 23 1.4 primes, but I personally feel the conical lens is slightly better balanced with the X-T30, and I've since bought myself a 23 f2 myself to leave on my X-T30. It really does then become a point and shoot weight, and as I wore it with a cross body style strap, carrying it around the streets of Istanbul meant I could easily forget it was there.

In the few weeks I had with it, I carried a camera with me everywhere, something I had not done in years. I had an unusual path into photography in the sense that I became busy very quickly earning as a photographer before I had the chance to creatively grow. As a result it's been a huge bugbear and constant struggle for me to try to get back into personal projects, literally last year the closest I got was to start writing down project names in my diary.

I'd started up a few toy camera projects in an attempt to kick into gear and spark something in myself, but it's refreshing to know I can finally attain the convenience I was after in terms of size and weight, but not compromise on the image quality, which I'd done with my plasticky toy shots. I know some people might shoot everything on the Xpro2 or X-T3, but I wanted a smaller lighter camera that could help me mentally separate out work and play time, and also be able to use the same editing style to make sure it was something I could proudly print.

I find it very difficult to convey how much I love this little camera and how much it means to me. I have always been someone with GAS and who loves and names her things (I called the X-T30 Philippa constantly, much to Fujifilm team's amusement), and all I can really say is that I feel this camera is such a joy for me to use that I see it as something with the potential to change my photography habits, something you can't put a price on. I'm reviewing a tool but really talking about something more personal.

I know sceptics might say I'm supposed to rave about this camera but the reality is they let me try it because they knew my personal incompleteness with existing models and that I was craving a camera that was basically the X-T20 with a joystick and the X-T3 sensor i.e. the Fujifilm X-T30. here was a lot of potential for me to not love this if they'd omitted some essential features, and I have been notoriously outspoken and honest with the Fujifilm team if there's something I don't care for. On the Fujifilm X-T30, I feel Fujifilm genuinely stepped up and overdelivered beyond my expectations, and it's partly why I love using their cameras, they make the users feel listened to and considered in their development.

As always, I recommend people go into a store and try it for themselves as I believe everyone has different needs and priorities for their work approach. I think if you're an X-T3 owner, I feel confident saying this is an incredible complement to it, and you won't be disappointed at all.

To round off, here's a selection of images I took with Philippa that comprised of a couple of holidays, two portrait sessions, a couple shoot and a bridal runway show.

 

I'd like to dedicate this review to the wedding guest who chatted to me at Shira and Mat's wedding the weekend before the X-T30 launch, who told me he is friends with someone who ran a Fujifilm rumour site and said "I've heard the X-T30 is coming out...". Thanks for letting me practice my poker face.
You'll be able to get black and silver in March, with charcoal silver (a really really nice dark grey, different from graphite) in May. I'm not sure of pricing yet but I'll update as I hear.

2 Comments

  • Gareth Callan says:

    It’s each to their own, but you haven’t really accented that the EVF is so much smaller and the eye-cup non-existent on the X-T20. That makes the user experience horrible when you’re used to the X-T2 – and I got rid of my X-T20 for that reason alone. It’s the same on the new generation. What a pity. C’mon Fuji – get that X-T30 (non-)eyecup sorted out – it’s horrible.

    • Marianne says:

      Hey Gareth- I hardly used my X-T20 as I didn’t get past the joystick, but I have to say I didn’t notice the smaller EVF compared to the X-T3, so you say it’s probably personal to differ in what feels right etc.! I shoot with glasses on so maybe that means I’m always a bit further away from any EVF…

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