Fujifilm FinePix HS30EXR Digital Camera Review$499.95
Ease of Use
The HS30 has two automatic modes, three if you count EXR. Program Auto is where we spent most of our time, even though program shift functionality is not supported. For true beginners, a fully automatic mode is also available. This is not a scene-detecting auto mode, and the menu system still allows a slew of shooting options and settings, which could be confusing for some.
EXR mode is a bit different. This setting crops the sensor (except for Resolution Priority) to provide enhanced functionality like lower noise or better dynamic range. We don't test reduced resolution modes, but there's also an EXR Auto setting that applies an appropriate EXR effect based on the camera's evaluation of the scene.
Buttons & Dials
The HS30's button layout is divided between the right and left sides of the body, making this a camera for two-handed operation. Labeling of the rear control panel is a little tricky, and that goes for the clusters on both sides of the chassis. We do actually like this arrangement, however the complexity of this scheme relative to other ultrazooms will require a bit of a learning curve. Many important settings are absent from the main menu, so you'll need to remember your hotkeys when appropriate.
The menu system is Fujifilm's typical vertical list, a high contrast, low resolution interface that displays too-few options at once across many pages of settings. Finding the one you're looking for is a slow process, and without color coding it's hard to remember familiar pathways. In fact the entire default color scheme is kind of an eyesore, and makes the camera feel low-end. The interface can also slow down dramatically at times, especially right after a shot has been captured or the camera has been powered on.
There is no "quick menu," but that's because most of the appropriate settings get their own physical button instead. This is ideal, but again, will take some getting used to.
The HS30 ships with a mildly-useful basic guide, but you'll really want to download the full instruction manual from Fujifilm's website. Here you'll find a thorough document that contained almost all the information we needed for review.