I am thinking about buying a Fuji HS30 to my wife, so she can start shooting on full manual, before investing in a dslr and some lenses.

Do focus ring and zoom ring in Fuji HS30 behave like a dslr manual lenses behaves?

i.e can I use this cam as a training camera before buying a real dslr camera?

Before someone says "just buy a entry level dslr", don't forget that a HS30 cames with a 30x zoom (24-720mm focal range), which is a very expensive lens on a dslr, and provides a great range for training purposes.

  • +1 - Good question. I'll note, though, that any lens with that kind of range has made a LOT of compromises that will substantially reduce image quality, something to consider when making the comparison. – John Cavan Nov 6 '12 at 3:07
  • Indeed but for training purposes, quality is not that important. It is a impressive lens though and exceeds many of shorter ultra-zooms. – Itai Nov 7 '12 at 13:33

You can learn photography on any camera with full manual controls, including the HS30 EXR. As you suspect, you wont get the same results but you get as close to DSLR controls with the HS30.

The zoom ring is mechanical which is rare on a fixed lens camera but is exactly how DSLRs do it. It is infinitely precise and the viewfinder shows 100% coverage, just like on a high end DSLR which gives you the ability to compose perfectly.

The focus ring is fly-by-wire so the feel is not the same. It rotates freely and has more throw but this is much better than using cursor keys on most other fixed-lens cameras.

There will of course be lots more differences but as you learn, it is a good place to start. The zoom range is hard to match on a DSLR and that is OK. At the end of your training you will even be able to run a stats program to gather which focal-length you used the most and it will great to know when it is time to buy lenses.


Within a minute answering this, I see you got the opposite answer too :) It is certainly OK to learn with a DSLR first. There will be less of a jump later but my original answer still stands, you can learn without one and that is how I did it back when 7X was a long zoom!

Actually, images captured with my fixed-lens camera have sold just as well as those from my DSLRs. In this gallery of images from Peru, almost half are shot with a fixed lens camera which is a decade old now. If you cannot tell which ones are which, then the ultra-zoom will do :)

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  • It's sad that i can choose only one answer because everyone provided great answers, but yours answer explained how zoom and focus ring works on this camera, that's why I'm choosing this one – grprado Nov 7 '12 at 10:49

One thing to be aware of is that depth of field will be much deeper with the Fuji HS30, due to the small sensor and very short actual focal length (the lens is a 24-720mm equivalent, not a 24-720mm, it's actually a 4.2-126mm).

This means it's not a good body to learn about manual focus (or focussing technique in general) as focus mistakes will be covered by the depth of field. You might find when upgrading to a DSLR you wont be able to get nearly the same focus hit rate.

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Sure, you can, because you can learn many aspects of photography with any old junky camera. But I'd still say if you're really interested, not only should you skip this class of camera, but you should go straight to a mid-range model. I wrote about this in my answer to Are there disadvantages to a prosumer camera for a beginner, aside from cost?, and I'll just point to that rather than repeating myself.

Unlike a nice DSLR, this camera has only one command wheel, which is better than the none at all offered by most point and shoots, but which makes it a pain to operate in full manual exposure mode, and makes using exposure compensation in aperture- or shutter-priority modes less convenient than it could be. Cameras with this feature starts at about twice the price of the HS30 (and that's sans lens), but they'll also get you right into learning without needing to fuss about taking small steps in gear upgrades — which can ultimately be more expensive, as you're just throwing money away at each step.

Don't be over-swayed by the superzoom's zoom range, at least not for this purpose. It's not particularly educational — if anything, it's the opposite, because rather than learning to see as a particular lens does, or learning what to use for what job, you've got a one-size-fits-all tool — which of course doesn't ever fit as well as the right one would.

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