The Fujifilm FinePix XP30 is another stylish entrant into the burgeoning tough compact market.
Designed for outdoors enthusiasts looking for a camera that can take a few knocks, the XP30 is a ruggedly constructed, 14-megapixel, point-and-shoot compact camera that claims to be water proof to a distance of five metres, shock proof up to 1.5 metres, freeze proof to -10 degrees Celsius, and fully sealed against dust and sand. Priced at a mere £150, it's markedly cheaper than many such rugged compacts so could be the budget choice for adventurous types.
Looking remarkably similar to the XP10 model it replaces, the new model sports quite a few external design tweaks, plus a range of internal upgrades, and some entirely new features altogether.
Chief among these is an all-new, built-in GPS function that can be set to automatically tag the metadata of each image with location details, either in the form of longitude and latitude coordinates, or by place name. More on its effectiveness later, but first the other headline specs.
The XP30 is built around a 14-megapixel 1/3.3-inch CCD sensor that records JPEG images in 4:3 aspect ratio at a maximum resolution of 4320 x 3240 pixels. If card space is scarce, or if you're shooting for the web then there's a 7-megapixel Medium setting and a 3-megapixel Small setting to fall back on too.
The XP30 can also record images in 16:9, although this drops the camera's highest available resolution to 10-megapixels, up to a maximum image size of 4320 x 2432 pixels. For all still images there's also the standard choice of 'Fine' or 'Normal' image quality to choose from.
The Fujinon 5x optical zoom offers a focal range of between 28-140mm in 35mm terms and sits on the top-left shoulder of the camera as you look at the rear monitor, neatly out of the way of any stray fingers that might obstruct it. It's a folded lens design, meaning it's fully encased within the camera. While this keeps dirt and water out we did find the toughened outer glass to be something of a finger-print magnet that required almost constant cleaning.
Helping in the fight against blur caused by hand shake at lower shutter speeds, the XP30 comes equipped with Dual Image Stabilisation that employs a combination of sensor-shift and automatic ISO-raising to help keep images as sharp as possible.
Zoom controls have moved to the top of the camera (they used to found on the back of the XP10) and now take the form of a spring-loaded slider, rather than two buttons. Continuously held, the lens moves through its focal range quite quickly - we repeatedly timed it at 1.8 seconds to go from 28mm to 140mm.
In contrast, and by carefully flicking the spring-loaded trigger to exact the shortest hops possible we managed to find 15 individual stops between the wide angle and telephoto extremes.