When it comes to overall performance the Z30 is going to need to practice a bit more if it wants to make it to the 2012 Olympics. It starts up quickly enough, in approximately two seconds, and shuts down again almost instantly as soon as the cover is closed. In single-shot mode its shot-to-shot cycle time is a little over three seconds, which is a bit on the slow side, and it’s no faster in continuous shooting mode.
The autofocus system is a bit slow, and I did find that it wasn’t always entirely accurate, beeping to confirm focus on several shots which later turned out to be blurred. It copes fairly well in low light despite the lack of an AF assist lamp.
I suppose that the sort of consumer who’s going to choose a Z30 probably doesn’t care too deeply about image quality, but even so I found that the Z30 has a number of significant problems. I’ve already mentioned the unreliable autofocus, but other issues include very poor automatic white balance, which tends to put a distinct cyan cast over daylight shots, and very mediocre lens performance. Wide-angle images don’t show any barrel distortion or chromatic aberration, although this is due mainly to image processing rather than optical quality. The corner sharpness is very poor, and centre sharpness isn’t far behind it.
Dynamic range is very limited, and in high-contrast situations the camera tends to expose for the highlights, resulting in very dark featureless shadows. Colour rendition in standard mode is over-saturated, especially red tones which come out far too bright, and the high-saturation “Chrome” mode looks positively psychedelic. Image noise is also a problem, with significant noise at 200 ISO, getting progressively worse up to the maximum 1600 ISO.
The Fujifilm FinePix Z30 is a fun little camera designed to be more a fashion accessory than a photographic tool. Overall build quality is good, but the fiddly controls and slippery shape make it hard to use, and the mediocre performance and poor image quality are also disadvantages. There are better cameras available for the same price.