Owning a digital camera is a must these days. But the bad news for camera makers is that the competition from camera phones is getting tougher.
Many smartphone manufacturers now also offer products with cameras that are able to produce great-quality pictures. Research in Motion’s BlackBerry, despite a lack of development in body design and operating system, has a reliable camera with focus that works well. And the iPhone’s camera is so good that it can make movies.
Because of these advancements, camera makers can’t afford to create an average digital camera.
Fuji is clearly aiming for beginner photographers with its Fuji Finepix L30. On first impression, the camera impresses with its compact, round edges and lightweight physical design. It would be no trouble nestling in your day bag. Like most of the mini-digi brigade, it’s a refreshing change from the large and bulky DSLR cameras.
However, the Finepix L30 barely does more than an average phone camera. Looking at its credentials, the L30 has all of the important features that can be found in other cameras, including red eye recognition, a range of shooting modes, macro mode, face detection and image stabilizer, although the last one only makes minor corrections to the photo.
It has a built-in flash and supports SD and SDHC card. The self-timer is set to 10 seconds. Other than photos, the camera can also shoot videos. It has a three-times optical zoom and five-times digital zoom. It also has intelligent scene recognition, a tool that detect faces and also helps optimize the focus when capturing images.
The L30 works on rechargeable Li-Ion batteries, which is disappointing. I am instantly discouraged at the sight of Li-Ion batteries because it means I must buy that specific type of battery as a replacement, which is inconvenient.
One thing worth praising about the L30 is the built-in photo and movie editing features. It seems that Fuji wants to appeal to blogging consumers because the camera includes editing and social media functionality. You can crop, rotate and resize the photo on the camera without having to transfer it to your computer.
The movie editing feature can also convert video into sepia or black and white.
I also like how the L30 can protect images from being accidentally deleted, something that happens alarmingly often to amateur photographers.
You can also mark certain photos to be uploaded to Facebook or videos to be uploaded to YouTube. The disappointing thing about this social media feature is that you have to install the MyFinePix Studio software to your laptop prior to the upload. Then you must connect the camera to an Internet-connected laptop with a USB cable. Once connected, you can upload selected images and videos to Facebook and YouTube. It’s one step simpler, but not necessarily hassle-free. It is as if the camera wants to appear “social” without the technology to back up the claim. And a heads up here: the upload feature does not work on Mac computers.
Compared to other point-and-shoot cameras, the photo editing tool is worth considering. Apart from this, it will be tough for this camera to compete with high-end smartphones. The L30 comes with 10-megapixel resolution, but Nokia can top that with its N8 phone.
It has built-in panorama mode, but smartphone owners can solve this problem by buying a panorama photography app. And the 6cm viewfinder is still not something that can compete with an average smartphone’s bright screen, let alone ones with retina display.
It is safe to say that if you have a high-end smartphone, it is unlikely that the L30 will be much of a step up for you.