Fujifilm FinePix HS30EXR Digital Camera Review$499.95
The Fujifilm FinePix HS30EXR is a solid superzoom, but we come away from this review a bit disappointed. The mechanical zoom ring is a unique innovation, and despite the just-okay image quality produced by the HS20 last year, we found ourselves rooting for this series. Then, when we heard the HS30 would stick with the same zoom ratio as its predecessor, we thought "perfect, they're going to work on image quality instead of just more and more zoom." Heck, they even designed a new sensor.
Yet here we are again, one year later, talking about a camera we want to love, but don't.
Despite a supposedly-new sensor, image quality is still rather mediocre. Hit-or-miss white balance tends to ruin the camera's best feature, color accuracy, while both sharpness and noise reduction lag behind the competition. Chromatic aberration is extremely bad at the longest focal length, and shots at every zoom ratio are affected by distortion.
Design-wise the body still feels cheap, and didn't give us much confidence in build quality or durability. Problems with the HS20's design haven't been fixed, like the obstructive flash enclosure, in fact the chassis is altogether identical to the previous model. The menu system could still use an update, it's slow and inefficient, and gives the camera an entry-level user experience.
What Fujifilm needs to do to bring this series into contention is...well, exactly what we thought they were going to do. Stick with 30x zoom, stick with the manual rings, and focus on image quality. Improve the glass so it still looks sharp at maximum magnification. Start over with yet another new sensor. No, not the one from the X-S1, that camera takes lousy pictures too, and $800 is not an acceptable price for an superzoom. Finally, redesign the chassis with a more clever flash enclosure, hopefully one that doesn't stick out two inches above the lens barrel.
That's the formula, but until our dreams become reality, the HS30EXR is sadly just another superzoom.