Although it’s water, dust and shock proof, FujiFilm’s rather rugged XP30 compact digital camera isn’t aimed at the bomb-proof travel camera’ market. Instead, it’s designed to protect itself from clumsy family members – including, but not limited to, kids.
That said, we could still see a place for the svelte 165g XP30 in the daysack of any lover of life’s littlest gadgets – or for those who are after a second’ camera that isn’t purely designed to be tiny.
Small but solid
With the prices of compact cameras tumbling as quickly as their megapixel ratings rise, it has become a habit of the optical giants to issue armoured versions at a slight premium, but the XP30 is a little different.
It’s seriously small, and at 99x68x24mm could easily slip into a shirt pocket.
Seriously compact, the XP30 sports a 2.7in LCD screen at the rear. Upfront, there’s a 28mm Fujinon wide-angle lens that’s capable of 5x optical zoom. The CCD measures 14.2 megapixels (it can also take lower-resolution seven and three-megapixel shots if required – say, for online use such as eBay). It also comes with image stabilisation, and can capture HD video in AVI format at a resolution of 1280×720 pixels, at 30 frames per second. Standard definition video can also be shot at 640×480 resolution.
Built for action
All of those features are useful on long, dusty and dangerous trips – but they’re primarily its tech CV; the XP30′s travel CV is even better. Available in black, silver, orange, blue and green, the XP30 is designed with boisterous activity’ and rough and tumble’ in mind – which can include the following: being dropped from 1.5 metres; skiing in temperatures down to -10°C; and swimming in a depth of up to five metres. It’s also completely sand and dust-proof, which is evident from the confined optical lens, tough glass and smooth fixings around the LCD screen and battery compartment.
The charger for the XP30′s small lithium ion battery is a simple, cable-free unit that plus directly into the wall – absolutely ideal for travellers who detest having to take multiple cables and adaptors on the road. Other accessories include software for geo-tagging (MyFinePix Studio software for PC and FinePixViewer for Mac).
The battery compartment also houses the camera’s SD Card slot, though this spring-action pop-up door can be a pain to close. The latch is tiny, and doesn’t catch easily enough. All in all, it’s far too fiddly – and that’s where the XP30′s waterproof claims could mistakenly crack.
Location, location, location
Oh, and did we mention that the XP30 has GPS capabilities? It’s something of a novelty for most users and we’ve never been convinced that it’s in wide use by snappers, but the XP30 can log the latitude and longitude (or location, if you happen to be somewhere of note) of every single snap you take. It can be slow to find a satellite in many places, and rarely works indoors – like any GPS gadget – but the frenetic searching process that dominates the first few minutes of any session is most unwelcome.
However, we won’t go on about geo-tagging, as it can quite easily be deactivated. If you choose not to deactivate it, the feature will tag’ you every ten minutes (and can even point you toward the spot where a specific photo was taken), draining the camera’s battery significantly more quickly even than the paltry two hours of use we got from the XP30.
Pictures produced by the XP30 are sharp enough – though with over 14 megapixels at its disposal, we had expected a touch more detail. Used in daylight and in fine’ (as opposed to normal’) mode, the pictures it produced were a touch soft, although colour is punchy yet natural even in overcast conditions. Shots taken at dusk were reasonably clean.
There are lots of presets, the highlights being ‘natural’ (takes two images, one with flash and one without), ‘portrait enhancer’ (softens skin), ‘motion panorama’ (takes up to three frames), ‘night tripod’ (slow shutter speed), ‘sunset’ (extra vivid colours) and a particularly effective ‘text’ preset. There’s even a scene recognition’ option, if you can’t even be bothered to choose your own preset.
Given that the XP30 could be while snorkelling, it’s handy that a number of underwater modes have been included for filming video, including wide-angle and macro (close-ups) – though the IT Reviews budget sadly didn’t stretch to visiting any coral reefs to test this feature to its fullest.
During operation the XP30 focuses quickly upon depressing the shutter, and zooming (we deactivated digital zoom) using the top-mounted lever is quick, too – though rather loud.
Other picture options include red eye removal, Finepix Colour (merely a choice between standard colour, black & white and sepia) and a face detection mode, though we weren’t able to activate it from the menus.
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- Hard-wearing design, underwater mode.
- Poor battery life; average image quality.
Protecting precious pictures seems like a logical idea to us - trouble is, we're not convinced that the XP30's pictures are all that precious.
Nicely priced and better designed than some of its chunkier (and pricier) competitors, we can't help thinking that a camera which is designed for holidays should be easier on battery power. Considering the camera's already-short battery life, geo-tagging seems a energy-guzzling luxury - and shouldn't there be a viewfinder in place of a LCD?
That said, this well-built, well designed (apart from the battery cover) and reasonably versatile camera is fit for purpose. Go forth and, um... let your kids use it.