The Z30 is a very simple point-and-shoot ultra-compact, and as such is doesn’t have a lot of features or options. It has only automatic operation, with a choice of basic or standard auto modes, plus 16 fairly mundane scene modes and an automatic scene recognition mode, which is the best default setting for ease of use. Menu options are limited to the basics, including image size/quality, ISO setting, white balance and exposure compensation, but precious little else. The only colour options are between standard or high saturation mode, and there are only two focus mode options. What it does have however is a “Blog” mode and an online auction mode. This is a camera for the Internet generation.
The external controls consist of a double row of rubber-covered buttons to the right of the monitor. Presumably the rubber coating is intended to help resist dust and splashes, but the Z30 is not waterproof like its sibling the Z33. In practice the controls are extremely fiddly, particularly the zoom control, which is very small and hard to press accurately. The zoom action itself is very slow, but at least it has nine steps between wide and telephoto, so accurate framing is possible.
I’m not a big fan of sliding-cover cameras, but in fact the design of the Z30 does work fairly well. The curved shape means that the cover is less likely to come open in your pocket, and the lens is positioned far enough away from the corner that you don’t end up accidentally getting your finger in the way when holding it two-handed.
The Z30 features a dedicated button to immediately start recording video, although it is limited to 640 x 480 resolution at 30fps with mono audio and no optical zoom. The video quality is reasonably good, but the sound quality is pretty dreadful thanks to the small and very tinny microphone.
The only other features of note are a couple of unusual self-timer modes, a couple-timer and a group-timer. These use the face detection system to count the number of faces in the frame, and then start the timer countdown when everyone’s in position. It’s a simple feature but one that could come in useful for exactly the type of social snapshot photography for which the Z30 is designed.
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