New Year, New Camera (Pt. 2)

Fujifilm X70

It’s small. It is the smallest X-camera available from Fujifilm. Smaller than the X30 or X100, the X70 easily fits into a coat pocket. With the compact 18.5mm lens, it doesn’t feel much bigger than my iPhone. And, perhaps that is the point of this camera.

Last week I received a review sample of the new X70 from Fujifilm Canada. The next day was a bright, sunny day which offered the possibility of making nice images at Fisgard Lighthouse under blue skies. Off we went, coffee in hand and X70 in my smallest camera bag. I didn’t need the bag. The X70 easily slipped into my coat pocket, where it stayed when I wasn’t shooting with it.

Image quality

Amazingly, Fujifilm has managed to put all of the X-trans APS-C goodness of it’s line of interchangeable lens bodies and the X100 series into this, let me say it again, small camera. Given the quality lens, it is no surprise to find what great images the X70 produces. Great image quality? Check.

A note on image quality. Like the other Fujifilm cameras that share the same sensor, the X70 produces exceptional JPEG images. However, I wish that the new black-and-white, Acros film simulation had been included in this camera. Guess I will have to wait until the X-Pro 2 arrives for that.

18.5mm lens

With a full-frame equivalent of 28mm, the lens is perfect for lots of photography. Particularly street and landscape. This is my preferred field-of-view for shooting on the street and worked well for shooting at the lighthouse too. Like the the X100 series, the X70 will be an easy choice as your take-only-one-camera when you travel near or far. At a maximum aperture of f/2.8, there might be some low-light limitations. But, for most photography, the lens is really great and the small size adds (or subtracts) to keeping the X70 a tidy package. Good optics? Check.

Handling

The X70 is the first X-series camera that I have used without a viewfinder. It only has a touch-enabled, tilting LCD screen. The tilting feature is definitely nice and necessary for a camera without a viewfinder. This feature prompts you to shoot from angles that would normally be difficult without it, which makes shooting with the X70 quite fun. The close-focusing distance also expands the way you might photograph a scene. Being touch-enabled means that anyone moving from using a smartphone for photography will feel right at home when they pick up the X70.

The X70 also features a fully Auto mode, like the X-T10 and the new X-E2s, making this a great camera for those coming from a more automatic shooting experience. I chose to use the X70 like I my own X-cameras, in some sort of manual mode. On the street, I used only scale focusing as I found using the LCD screen extremely difficult outside.

Like the X100 series, the X70 has a leaf shutter, which makes for a very quiet or silent shutter. This will also mean that you can shoot with off-camera flash at very high synch speeds, although the camera’s form factor won’t readily suggest that is how you will use it.

Given the camera’s size, the X70 is on the small side for larger hands. The lens barrel is so short, that I found turning the focus ring difficult. It isn’t much easier to adjust aperture, although the tabs on the aperture ring help. Handling? Can’t check that box.

Old dog, new camera

In conclusion, I realize that I’m not just reviewing the X70 but myself as well. The X70 is a great camera and I really love the focal length it captures. The size, functionality and feature set will appeal to many photographers wanting to capture higher-quality images than they might with their smartphones. The X70 definitely delivers excellent images.

For me, the major downside to the X70 is the lack of a viewfinder. Fuji will be offering an external viewfinder as an option, which may go a long way to mitigating my concerns. With the review camera I was using, I found that I missed the viewfinder in nearly all the circumstances that I found myself shooting. Even when I didn’t want to look through the viewfinder to make a photo, such as when I was shooting on the street. You see, when I shoot on the street, I setup my X-camera to only use the viewfinder when I put the camera to my eye. That way, the LCD screen remains off and unnoticeable to anyone else. The X70’s screen remains on whenever the camera is turned on, which made me feel conspicuous while shooting on the street. This is probably more my problem than the camera’s, but still…

Using the X70, I often found myself bringing the camera up to my eye. Ah, no viewfinder. Right! So, this old dog had a difficult time adjusting to this new camera. And despite the favourable field-of-view for street photography, I wasn’t as comfortable shooting with the X70 as I am with either an X100 or X30, merely because of the viewfinder issue. I know that Fuji intends the X70 to compete with the Ricoh GR series, which also lacks a viewfinder. However, I would gladly have a larger camera body with a viewfinder, which I believe would make the X70 more attractive to someone considering the purchase of the Fuji over the Ricoh.

Not all cameras are for everyone. The image quality and FOV of the X70 are really great. However, the small size and lack of internal viewfinder means that I am not the right photographer for the X70.  A great camera for some, but this old dog can’t learn some new tricks I guess.

 

All sample photos captured with the X70. Monochrome images SOOC JPEGs. Colour images edited RAW files in LR.

8 Comments

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  1. “However, I would gladly have a larger camera body with a viewfinder, which I believe would make the X70 more attractive to someone considering the purchase of the Fuji over the Ricoh.”

    That would make it a X100T? :)

  2. Thank You for the review I shoot with an X30 and E-X2 but am looking for pocket size with great image quality. I’m willing to trade viewfinder for pocketablity I guess, but I can appreciate how you feel. I’m sure I will be sticking the x70 screen up to my eye as well.

  3. Now they need a viewfinder and a full-frame … in the same size. THAT would be killer

    • Hey Kevin, thanks for reading. It is amazing to me that they have squeezed an APS-C sensor into a body this size as it is. Adding a viewfinder would, I hope, only add a little to the size.
      What I’m really hoping for is a medium-format, mirrorless camera and lenses from Fuji. Just skip full-frame entirely. Now, that would be KILLER!

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