Tiptoeing Into Mirrorless Territory


If you are a photography enthusiast, you are probably aware of the intense competition going on between DSLR and mirrorless cameras.  The first one is desperately attempting to hold its ground, while the latter is seeking to take the market by storm.  You are devoted zealots on both sides of the aisle to hold ground.

Mirrorless cameras is a new class of digital system cameras. After a few years without a well-defined classification, many specialized magazines and major manufacturers are adopting the term DSLM or simply mirrorless cameras. Various alternative names exist including: compact system camera (CSC), mirrorless system camera (MSC), digital single lens mirrorless camera (DSLM), digital interchangeable-lens system camera (DILLS), and electronic viewfinder with interchangeable lens camera (EVIL).  I prefer to call them just mirrorless cameras.

Credit: Fujifilm Corporation

I presently own a DSLR camera (Canon EOS Rebel T2i) and a P&S camera (Canon PowerShot A720 IS).  I’ve used them for several years.  In general terms, I’m satisfied with their performance, although I have to be candid with you and admit that I prefer to shoot with my P&S camera for several reasons.  It is small, lightweight, easy to use and relatively inexpensive.

As I digged deeper into the field of photography, I wanted to shoot better pictures but without having to carry the weight and bulk size of my DSLR camera or the limited quality of the P&S camera.  Searching the web led me to the mirrorless cameras.  The selection process to pick out the best mirrorless camera with a meager budget was painful and cumbersome.  There’s so much stuff out there to choose from, much of it outside of your financial radar screen.

After two years of investigating the market, my options were narrowed down to the following cameras:

  • Fujifilm X100 S with a 23mm f/2 fixed focal length lens – $934.99
  • Fujifilm X100 T with a 23 mm f/2 fixed focal length lens – $1,299.00
  • Fujifilm X-E2 with a 18-55 f/2.8-4.0 kit telephoto lens – $1,099.00
  • Fujifilm X-E1 with a 18-55 f/2.8-4.0 kit telephoto lens (refurbished) – $999.00
  • Olympus OM-D E-M5 with a 12-50 f/3.5-6.3 telephoto lens – $1,099.00
  • Fujifilm X-30 with a 28-112 mm f/2.0-2.8 fixed telephoto lens – $598.95

At the end of the day I placed my bet on the Fujifilm X-30 with a price tag of $598.95 and placed the order on January 25th at Amazon.com.  A few days later, on February 1st., I discovered the price had dropped a whopping $100.00—$498.95.  Ouch! That hurts.

Sometimes it’s challenging to be totally objective.  Reviews aren’t just about technical charts and specifications, but also about feelings, perceptions and the various influences around you and of course money.

I firmly believe in the potential of mirrorless cameras as a hobbyist, enthusiast or even professional tool.  Unlike professionals and advanced amateurs, those who dabble in photography as a part-time hobby want a camera that will allow them to capture those special moments without too much hassle, be it a vacation abroad, a wedding event or a simple walk in the park.  Generally, they look for four main qualities when purchasing a camera:  portability, ease-of-use, reasonable price, and good image quality.  With these four golden rules as a guide, deciding which mirrorless camera to buy as a beginner becomes a lot easier.

Credit: Zack Arias, professional photographer.

I chose a Fuji camera because Fuji believes that beauty matters and they are right—so does Apple by the way.  Both are deeply moved by beautiful design.  Objects of great functionality also have to be objects of desire.  Their products are unique and they also believe in disruptive innovation.  I like this way of thinking.  It works!

Who should buy a Fuji X-30 camera?  In my humble opinion, anyone who wants a stylish little point-and-shoot camera with a nice set of features like Wi-Fi, a usable EVF (electronic view finder), and an articulated screen.  You don’t really care about manual controls whatsoever, nor do you want a camera that can step in for paid work from time to time.  Yes, this camera does have manual controls and you could go to print with this camera but…you know what I’m saying.

What moved me to buy this camera?  All I wanted was a small easy to carry camera that had great image quality.  I just needed that device in between a point-and-shoot or cell phone camera and a full-fledged DSLR.  That’s where the Fuji X-30 came in.  I was infatuated with the Olympus OM-D E-M5, but I just didn’t have to money to pay for it, so I compromised.  In real life there’s a big difference between what you want and what is possible.  You have to live within your means if you want to avoid trouble down the road.  I think that the Fuji X-30 is a high-end photographer’s point-and shoot camera.

Yesterday afternoon, I was ready to set up the newly acquired tool.  Inside the box I found the following items:

  • One Fuji NP-95 lithium-ion rechargeable battery capable of taking 470 pictures on a single charge
  • One AC-SVT AC power and plug adapter
  • One USB cable
  • One silver metallic lens cap
  • One plastic clip attaching tool
  • Two metal strap clips
  • Two protective covers
  • One shoulder strap
  • Two owner’s manuals (English and Spanish)
  • One silver Fujifilm mirrorless X-30 camera

Below are several pictures of the unboxing.

Box containing the Fujifilm X-30 and its accessories. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
A close-up view of the mirrorless Fujifilm X-30. Notice the Fujinon aspherical lens: Super EBC f=7.1-28.4mm 1:2.0-2.8 fixed optical telephoto IS lens. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

I’ve noticed that many pundits and camera consumers have criticized the size of the Fuji X-30 sensor.  They claim the size is too small to produce high-quality pictures.  At least the sensor should be a one inch sensor to make it more attractive and to compete to similar mirrorless cameras.  For your ready reference, below are the sizes of the commonly used sensor by camera’s manufacturers:

  • A full-frame digital SLR sensor:  36 x 24 mm
  • APS-C sensor:  23.6 x 15.6 mm
  • Micro four thirds:  17.3 x 13 mm
  • One inch sensor:  13.2 x 8.8 mm
  • Two-Thirds sensor:  8.8 x 6.6 mm
  • 1/1.7 inch sensor:  7.6 x 5.7 mm
  • 1/2.3 inch sensor:  5.76 x 4.29 mm

The X-30 camera uses a 12 MP 2/3-inch X-TransTM CMOS II sensor with no Optical Low Pass Filter.  Perhaps the image quality produced by the Fuji X-30 sensor is competitive with larger one-inch sensors except for those who need very large prints or other large reproduction formats.  Of course large sensor are very important to the pixel peepers.  Not for me.

Snapshot of the Fujifilm X-30 with its original metallic lens cap. The device has an optical image stabilization which is a great feature to capture handhold images. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

The dimensions of the camera is 4.7 x 2.4 x 2.8 inches; 14.9 ounces.  Battery performance has also been improved, with the X30 capable of shooting approximately 470 photos on one charge thanks to a capacity about 1.8 times greater than that of earlier models and a new, energy-saving design.

Snapshot of the Fuji X-30 accessories previously listed in this blog post. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Snapshot of a plastic lens cap, a Fuji lens hood and a Fuji UV filter to protect the camera’s telephoto lens. These items were bought separately. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Snapshot of the X30 owner’s manual (basic operations). Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Snapshot of the Fuji x30 owner’s manual written in the Spanish language. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

Even as we speak the camera has been set up and the battery was charged for almost four hours.  The hood and protective filter have been installed.  The strap has been placed as well as the language, date, and Panama time set up.  I’m reading the manuals to get familiarized with the tool before I go out on a shooting spree.

I’m fired up with the Film Simulation feature, specially the new Fuji classical chrome setting.  The Fuji X-30 improved Film Simulation settings will allow you to create brilliant images without the need for lengthy post-production; you can switch between beautiful styles just as easily as choosing a roll of film. The expanded range of modes now includes Classic Chrome that was developed to meet the requests of Fujifilm X-Photographers worldwide.

Before I close this post would like to thank Joe and DesleyJane for all their help and support in selecting my mirrorless camera.  You know who you are.

For the moment that’s it folks.  Now I’ve joined the X-Shooters Club after a prolonged wait of over two years saving enough money to buy this puppy.  Good Day.

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11 thoughts on “Tiptoeing Into Mirrorless Territory”

    1. Morning Joe:

      The device feels great in ones hand. Should be taking my first pictures sometime next week. So far everything is exactly as it’s written in the manuals.

      Thank you for your comment,

      Omar.-

    2. I know how the Exposure Compensation Dial works because I’ve used it with my P&S Canon PowerShot A720 IS camera. The Q Menu and Front Command Ring is new territory. Will concentrate on these two subjects as you are suggesting.

      I’m also interested in learning how to use the Film Simulation modes. I understand they are outstanding in producing awesome colors.

      I’m so excited, I’m jumping out of my skin.

      Regards,

      Omar.-

    1. Morning Barbara,

      A UV filter is an “Ultra Violet” filter used to separate out ultra violet rays from the sun and sharpen up your shots. It also protects the camera’s lens from accidental scratches when shooting out in the field. It’s very convenient to protect your lens with these filters.

      Like a school boy, I’m stuyding the manuals before I jump into the pool.

      Cheers,

      Omar.-

  1. Hi Linda,

    The more I get into photography, the more complex it gets. Instead of making things easier, manufacturers are concentrated in making their products almost impenetrable. Reading a manual is like going back to college.

    It really takes a lot of willpower to understand how to operate a 21st century gadget. Cameras are no exception, so a steep learning curve it is.

    Bye,

    Omar.-

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