What we bought: The Fujifilm X-T30 is the perfect camera for me

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If I’m honest with myself, my only real hobby is collecting hobbies. I play guitar and record electronic music. Last year I took up painting. (I’m objectively terrible at it.) I cook. I brew beer. I do some DIY electronics. I am an avid walker. A flashing light runner. I flirted with boxing. Oh, and I write. Clear.

Now I’ve added photography to the list. I explored it a bit in high school and college, but had only picked up a camera (which wasn’t built into my phone) outside of work a few times since then. Back in 2021, after a few years of using my phone’s camera exclusively for review photos, I decided I urgently needed to upgrade. I finally settled for the Fujifilm X-T30, partly because I was on a budget. But while looking for an affordable workhorse for my photo and video game at Engadget, I finally got the perfect camera to rekindle my interest in the art of photography.

Fujifilm X-T30

Terrence O’Brien / Engadget

Let’s start with what draws a lot of people to the Fujifilm family in the first place: the controls. My first photography experiences were with film. Sure, it’s been a long time since I last used a movie camera, but at least I have a degree of comfort there. Unlike most digital cameras, Fujifilm’s X-series mimics the look of a 35mm film camera. There are dedicated shutter speed and exposure compensation dials, and many of Fuji’s first-party lenses have physical aperture rings. If I had gone for the X-T3, I would have even gotten a dedicated ISO dial. But there are two programmable dials that can be assigned to control ISO and aperture, even if you’re using a lens without an aperture ring.

This makes the X-T30 much more tangible and satisfying than other digital cameras I’ve used, when I’d usually just put them on aperture priority and forget about it. Without a PASM dial (Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual) as a crutch, I had to get to know the camera’s various options inside and out. I also have to think more carefully and critically about each exposure. Yes, you can essentially put the X-T30 into shutter or aperture priority mode by changing certain settings to auto, but you can’t just turn a knob and be done.

Fujifilm X-T30 sample shots

Terrence O’Brien

The other big thing for me is the movie simulations. Fuji cameras have a built-in set of profiles that are supposed to mimic a certain stock of film. Think of them a bit like Instagram filters, but less terrible. Astia is tuned for portraits, Velvia is perfect for landscapes, Eterna gives you a cinematic look with low contrast, and so on.

And that’s just the beginning: you can tweak the settings further to fine-tune your straight-out-camera (SOOC) JPGs to achieve different styles and approaches from other movies. There’s even a tiny Fujifilm subculture devoted to “film recipes” that aim to capture the general mood, if not the look, of many classic film stocks. One of the best sources for this is: Fuji X Weeklywhere Ritchie Roesch shares and shows different recipes to try and recreate things like Kodak’s Portra 400 or Ilford Delta.

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