Original Post - A super zoom point and shoot or bridge camera. Lens is 24-720mm.
Rose is using it as she likes its simplicity. She has only had it a few days.
It offers the same basic functions as a DSLR. Many of the functions are menu driven rather than having a dedicated button or a place on the control dial.
It is very light, has a very good electronic viewfinder, and a hi res LCD panel.
Rose likes the camera, but I doubt the cameras auto focus will be fast or precise enough for birding.
Here are a few sample pictures. All taken on auto setting.
Crow approx 50 feet
Geese approx 100 feet
Sign 10 feet
Starling 30 feet
Stump 30 feet
Update 1 - 17 March 2012
Some new pictures, a video and some new comments.
First the video, the camera captured the video in MOV, 1920x1080, this produced a 33 meg file, I converted it MP4, 720x480, 4 meg file, with Any Video Converter. The quality is not affected much, but you will probably notice how the image undulates a bit, it is more pronounced in the MP4 video than the MOV video.
Having used the camera on auto setting for a few days Rose is finding she is not very happy with the picture quality, more than half the pictures are not to our liking, blurred and lack of detail are the most frequent problems. It is obvious that the auto setting is not the answer. The camera seems to take decent area pictures and macro shots in the right light, but once you start to use the zoom image quality degrades quickly.
We could not load the manual from the CD that came with the camera, so we had to downloaded it from Fuji Global as Fuji Canada did not have the manual on line.
The default focus is not good for pinpoint focusing as the focus circle jumps as it locks on and always moves away from the spot you are trying to focus on, so it requires up to 4 focus attempts to get it onto or almost onto what you are trying to focus on.
Rose is going to try to learn some of the manual settings and we will give it another try later today.
All pictures and video taken thus far are on the default auto settings.
Default focus-Bird was focal point, focus shifts. Bird was pecking furiously, but did not move from its perch .
Tree Macro crop
Wood cropWe did take the camera out for another trial using A (AE) setting, 100 ISO, spot metering, AF center, single focus. Took two shots that we were really impressed with, then AF stopped working entirely. Switched back to Auto mode and still no AF. We then turned the camera off for about 5 minutes and AF worked again briefly then AF was totally unreliable, we only got one more decent picture after that.
We spent over 1/2 an hour trying to get the AF to work then gave up. Seriously considering returning the camera.
Final update - 18 March
We went out again today to test the camera.
We found the reason the camera would not auto focus was that we had left the camera on Macro, once we took it off Macro AF returned. Macro mode has to be accessed through a menu, but the Macro icon does display on the display while it is engaged. Oddly the Macro had been engaged for sometime and auto focus did work, then inexplicably stopped working.
A very overcast day today so we used A (AE) setting, 200 ISO (except 1 picture), AF center, single focus, spot metering.
Bolt super macro mode 5 inches 800 iso
Geese 40 feet 24 mm
Goose 40 feet 720 mm
Nuthatch at 30 feet, was focal point, just above center of photo. Difficult shot for any AF, but again AF shifted center of shot
Faded no parking sign 20 feet
No parking sign crop
Play structure 25 feet
Play structure crop
Sign 100 feet
The most disturbing thing we found was that as the AF starts to lock on the image in the viewfinder jumps briefly and once the AF does lock on the focal point can have shifted by as much as several inches. The other problem we encountered was that when you initially aim at something the image is so badly out of focus you have to 1/2 press the shutter button to get it to focus before you can start looking for your target.
We tried Continuous AF, sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't. When it did work it seemed very slow.
This all takes time and for birding both of the above problems will probably result in many missed shots. We found AF was not very fast or precise.
We did have an opportunity to try and capture 2 low flying Canada Geese in flight, an easy shot for a DSLR, but with the above problems we were unable to get the geese in the viewfinder.
The EVF is very good but it is still no where near the quality of a decent optical viewfinder.
The rear LCD panel is excellent.
Image stabilization seems to be quite effective.
The camera does not like solid colors and works best when contrast is present.
We found that it can take quite good photo's, but the fully automatic setting is not perfect and we had better success using the A (AE) setting and adjusting some settings to suit lighting.
We found the Macro setting can be very effective as long as there is contrast.
This ends our experience with the Fuji HS30 we hope we have presented some useful information here.
Sometime in the next several days I will be presenting my experience with a Kenko Pro 1.4x teleconverter.
Nobbyball has some Fuji HS30 comments and photos posted at Birdforum. Here is the link http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=224269