Using the Camera
The Z30 is a 10-megapixel camera that takes surprisingly good pictures. Pictures were sharp and well-exposed. We, however, often encountered the flash being stronger in the center of the picture, which was an aggravating quirk.
The Z30 has 50MB of internal memory. It accepts SD/SDHC cards which you will purchase separately. The lens is has 3x optical zoom and has a focal length 6.3 – 18.9mm (a 35mm equivalent of 35 – 105mm). The lens has an aperture range of f/3.7 – f/8.0 at wide angle and f/4.2 – f/9.0 in telephoto.
Battery life was good. We were able to shoot over 250 photos before we had to recharge the battery.
There is a lot of functionally hidden in this camera. Unfortunately, much of it is hidden in nested menus. The one nice thing about the menus is that, as shown in Figure 12, each menu item has large-letter text that describes it. There is also often on-screen text that describes the settings making your choice a bit easier.
Pressing the Menu/OK button while in the shooting mode, lets you choose from 17 scene modes; turn face detection on or off; change the image quality, change the movie quality, change the ISO, choose between color and black and white, turn on and off high-speed shooting and continuous shooting, and enter the set-up menu. When you change the mode to black and while you see everything in black and white on the LCD screen.
The scene modes include: natural, natural light, auction, portrait, landscape, sport, night, night tripod, sunset, snow, beach, museum, party, flower, text, anti-blur (picture stabilization), and successive movie.
There is also an auto-scene recognition mode on this camera. Although we did not find it as accurate as some other cameras, it was adequate. When the auto-scene mode went to work made on very subtle, but odd clicking sound. This was much subtler than the mystery sound we talked about earlier. Although the sound was odd, it was not intrusive. The camera also has face recognition and image stabilization.
If you press the Menu button in the playback mode, you are able to erase, choose the type of images you want to play back (all, still, movie, blog). You are also able to adjust the settings for trimming for blog, slide show, red eye removal, image rotation, image protection, trimming, copying to and from the internal memory and the memory card, creating a voice memo, changing transitions, ordering prints (for PictBridge compatible printers), and set-up.
Trimming for Blog was a command that confounded us a little and we are still not sure why the blog name was chosen. In effect, what it turns out to be is a way to process a still photo in the camera. You can change the aspect ratio, brightness, contrast, and other effect like painting, miniature, face mosaic, and drop shadow. The completed photo is stored in the camera while the original is also kept intact. Be forewarned, though, this feature is a little difficult to use.
The Z30 has several features that may be found in other entry-level cameras, but have more options in this camera. Self timer modes include 10 seconds, 2 seconds, Couple Timer, and Group Timer. There are three continuous shooting modes. The Long-Period mode begins taking photos when the shutter is pressed and continues until you release the shutter or the memory card is full. There are also two other options: Final-3 which saves only the last three images and Top-3 which capture three images in a row. More flash settings are also included on the camera. They are: Auto, Forced Flash, Suppressed Flash, Slow Synchro, Red-eye Reduction Auto, Red-eye Reduction & Forced Flash, and Red-eye Reduction & Slow Synchro.
A standard-definition movie mode is also included in the Z30. You can record at 30 frames per seconds in two sizes: 640 x 480 or 320 x 240. The videos are recorded as AVI files. The sound is mono. Optical zoom cannot be used during video recording. The video recordings are good, but not great.
The included FinePix software is the same as the A150 that we recently reviewed. It is a good starting point for new digital camera users.