Sunday, January 22, 2012

New Fuji's For Everyone for 2012 -- Part 3.

Bridging the Gap - 2

FujiFilm HS30/HS25EXR
In the previous article New Fuji's For Everyone for 2012 -- Part 2. We see two of the new superzoom/travel compacts on offer from Fuji. There are others but for our purposes the other models are really only variations of those shown here.
Next up is the New versions of the HS20EXR. Namely the HS30 and HS25.
So what if any changes have been made to the lineup that would tempt a current HS10/HS20 owner to upgrade?
Lets then look at what has changed that both the new cameras benefit from.

The Sensor.
Starting with the sensor Fuji has said they have produced a new quieter 1/2 sensor for the next generation of HS series cameras. Quieter by 30% (claimed) at ISO 3200 than in the HS20. Hopefully that translates to better Image Quality and an overall improvement in the quietness of the sensor through all ISO's.
HS20 users will know that at ISO200 the HS20 is really very noisy and it shows in all modes, so a quieter sensor should help with this.
The sensor also benefits from a change in the way the photo sites on the BSI-Cmos sensor work, allowing for a faster and quieter operation.

The Lens
Has been upgraded with a extra aspherical lens element. This will produce a crisper image overall and reduce further chromatic aberration and fringing. This should be a very good improvement. I always felt the lens in the HS20 was a little soft. My thought here is that Fuji cheated a little by not producing a new lens for the increased sensor size when they produced the HS20. Hence we now see a new lens configuration to go with the redesigned sensor.

60X Digital Zoom.
Both the new cameras benefit from Fuji's introduction of the digital zoom. My S5700 has this feature and in some circumstances performed well. Hopefully the implementation with the newer technology will see a large improvement in this function. To my way of thinking digital zoom has always seemed a little "gimicky" so it will be interesting to see what people make of this function.

The LCD remains at 460000 dpi. However it now supports Sunlight Mode which makes it much easier to view in bright sunlight. If this works as advertised there will be a good many people pleased by this. Sunlight has long been the curse of the LCD, so anything Fuji can do to lessen this has got to be good news.
The HS30 benefits from a new and improved EVF ( electronic view finder) with 920,000 dpi bringing it into the DSLR range. View-able angle is increased as is the overall size of the EVF. Unfortunately the HS25 retains the less than useful EVF with only 200,000dpi view finder. For those like me who wear glass an improved EVF is going to be a big help. For those who prefer to use the LCD for most of their work then the reduced EVF of the HS25 will be less of an issue.

Both of the new cameras have improved video performance. Most noticeably the ability to manual zoom smoothly while recording. This has been an issue with the previous HS models and hopefully has been well addressed in this generation. Both do 1080p HD movies and use the H.264 format which provides much smaller video files meaning more capacity for recording. While I'm not a fan of having video in a stills camera the trend today is for both functions and for many this is an important component, especially for those travelling on holidays or similar activities.

One of the areas Fuji has said they have also improved for both cameras is the AF. I hope so as this would be an excellent improvement. Startup time has been reduced and that's good news too as I find the startup time is excessive on the current HS series. Write times are said to have improved and that's always good. Make sure you use a class ten card as well. The new HS series of cameras also support SDXC(UHS-I) memory cards and this should make for significant increases in write times.

To Summarize
Apart from the EVF differences both these cameras have some nice upgrade points. So what then sets them apart?

  • EVF improved in the HS30 only.

  • RAW shooting only available in the HS30

  • AA batteries only used in the HS25. Lithium rechargeable battery used in the HS30. (claimed 600+ shots).
  • HS30 lighter than the HS25 by approx 5%.

  • Battery charger and Lithium battery included with the HS30, no charger included with the HS25
Basically what you have in the HS25 is a HS20 that now doesn't shoot RAW and comes with improvements to both the Lens and sensor.
Whereas the HS30 is a definite upgrade over the previous iterations of the HS series.
For current HS20 user the question then becomes, 
do you feel comfortable no longer using AA batteries and
do you think that there is enough improvement to the the lens/sensor/EVF to warrant buying a HS30?

In Conclusion
For users looking to step up a bit from the compacts then the HS25 is going to offer a good feature set at a reasonable price.
For current HS series users the HS30 offers some very significant improvements that will be hard to ignore, and for those wishing to take a serious look into the quality superzoom market then the HS30 will have a great deal to offer.
For me personally, all my complaints about the HS20 have been addressed, so the HS30 is a serious contender for my next camera. As we all know the sensor used in the HS20 and F550EXR punches well above its weight in comparison to its competitors and even against its larger stablemate the X10 and X-S1. The HS30 now offers pretty much everything a serious amateur photographer would want in a mid range super zoom/bridge camera.


  1. ... Ralph: Greatly looking forward to your hands-on comparison of the HS30 and the XS-1.

  2. Thanks for the update. I think for me, I am still learning all the features of my great HS20. In updating, I think my next move would be to upgade to the X-S1. As far as batterys, I love the fact of using AA, if something were to go wrong with my rechargeables, I can find new ones anywhere.

    Rich Bliss

  3. I dont think I will be doing an X-S1 review anytime soon. Having looked at and talked to a number of users at Dpreview, there really doesn't seem to be a whole lot of point in even trying an X-S1 unless Fuji can mitigate the orbs(specular highlights) issue. This problem is as likely to foul up a day shot as a night shot. I'm going to do an X series roundup shortly, but for now my money is firmly in the HS30's camp.

  4. ... Ralph: Still, I will faithfully follow your site in case you get a chance to borrow an XS-1 and compare the two. I respect and appreciate your decision to hold your ground on the orb issue. However, Fuji is obviously attempting to build the ultimate bridge camera, and a simple fix of the flaw might achieve their goal.

  5. Hi Iain,
    As long as the X-S1 remains in the $1200 to $1500 price bracket I wont buy one. I can get a much better DSLR with a single lens that would cost the same (or Less) and give infinitely better IQ and speed.
    Add to that that there isn't to date a firmware fix for the camera also compounds the issue.
    Personally I think that the changes to the HS30 will put the two cameras on a very close if not equal footing. The most underrated Fuji at present is the HS20, a good many people dont realize just what you can do with this camera. So for now at least the X-S1 isn't a happening thing, which is a shame as I was really looking forward to having some time with this camera.

    Cheers & Thanks

  6. ... Okay Ralph,
    ... Looking forward to your hands-on with the HS30!

  7. Apropos the 'orb' issue with the X-S1. I have read that due to the nine blades in the lens, this will NOT be an issue. Wait and see...

  8. We have already seen new user posting images that contain the dreaded "orbs" from the X-S1, but it will be interesting to see how these folks approch night photography bearing that in mind.