Design wise, we didn't have too many qualms. It managed to survive a couple of falls far more easily than our W200, and while there's no visible "armor" per se, the slimmed chassis definitely proved capable of taking a beating. Unfortunately, the rear LCD was tough to see in direct sunlight, and as with every other Fujifilm compact, the UI was dreadful. Graphics appeared as if they were concocted in the pre-Y2K era, and while the basics were there, tinkerers should know that you won't find any manual settings here.
We also found it somewhat troubling that we had to close the SD / battery door and then
flip a "lock" switch for it to fully seal off. Forget that little order of business, and you'll be dealing with a lot worse than a blurry photo. The GPS function was certainly nice -- folks who prefer to journal their travels by longitude and latitude
will have a field day -- but it took well over five minutes in many
instances for a lock to be found. No real shock there -- GPS has been slow on in-car navigators for eons -- but it's still frustrating, particularly on a device with "point and shoot" in the description.
As for image quality? Frankly, it's pretty poor in almost every scenario. It's painfully easy to craft a beautifully blurred photograph (just wait for a few clouds to come out, or step indoors without flipping on all of the lights), and even the "sharp" photos look dull and muted. It's par for the course with waterproof cameras, but the XP30 took "lifeless" to another level in all but the most ideal of outdoor situations. We managed to spruce a few personal shots up with the help of Adobe's Lightroom, but the stock output is decidedly ho hum. Don't take our word for it, though -- there's a couple of galleries below as proof.
Underwater performance wasn't much better. We had to hope for clear, sunny days and cloud-free water in order to get much of anything worth remembering, and even those photos didn't do the aquatic life any justice. We even tried to fire off a few shots at night while on a Manta Ray dive, and the results were simply heartbreaking. Not that we expected anything different from a $184 camera, but the fact still stands.
On the video front, things were somewhat more respectable. The jelly effect, while present, wasn't enough to seriously annoy us, and the underwater captures were actually quite impressive. We managed to snag a couple of Manta Ray clips with only the light from nearby flashlights, and the results were markedly better than the underwater photographs. Have a look for yourself and judge.
All in all, the XP30 is a camera that looks better than it actually is. Even at $184, it's hard to recommend to all but the most cash-strapped of vacationers. Despite being adequately rugged and capable of handling a few feet of water, the lackluster image quality, lethargic GPS module and hit-or-miss video captures don't exactly inspire confidence. You're better off spending your dough on a more capable interchangeable lens camera and a case; outside of the drink, the XP30 is truly tragic, so unless you live under the sea, it won't do you much good to have around in the majority of circumstances.