When the Fuji X70 was first announced there didn't appear to be anything too exciting about it in terms of specifications and it seemed to be missing some key photographer's features such as a viewfinder. However, after a serious think and a bit of research I took the plunge and got one back in March 2016.
I have already posted a bit about the camera in my Romania blogs a few months back, so will not simply repeat what I said there. Instead I will post a variety of images taken with the camera, comment briefly where relevant, then give a brief summary of its pros and cons at the end.
Suffice it to say the camera has become my day to day carry-around camera of choice, either on its own or as an addition to another body. It somehow seems to be more than the simple sum of its parts as a photographic tool and I really love it. Although I have an iPhone and do value its camera, I somehow have never gelled completely with the mobile phone shooting experience, although I can understand why they have all but replaced small-sensor compacts that offer few advantages. I instead tend to gravitate automatically to a "proper" camera, where I can dial in the settings I want and take images with IQ that stands real scrutiny. The X70 is my mobile camera and just gives me that satisfaction in use.
Of course an obvious use for the X70 is travel. With the native lens, wide angle converter or by stitching images into a pano, I have a versatile little camera and am not lugging around thousands of pounds worth of heavy, expensive kit. I can keep the strap loop on my wrist and place my hand and the camera in a jacket pocket, making for a secure and easy shooting experience. Either that or it just goes in a small shoulder bag (Ona Bowery) to supplement an X-T1/10/2 with a prime mounted.
Another obvious use of the camera is for documenting family life. It's such a small camera there really is no reason not to take it or have it handy on days out, walks or whatever. Despite the wide angle lens, it is possible to achieve some subject isolation by focusing close, where the lens is stellar.
When a dragonfly emerged from our pond back in early Summer I had the X70 to hand just before the school run and it was fitted with the wide angle conversion lens. Although it would normally be my last choice for this kind of shooting, I actually rather liked the resulting snapshot for its really unusual perspective and context. The tilting/touch screen made it relatively easy to reach out, compose, focus and shoot at arm's length! I printed it at A4 for Theo to take to school and the detail was staggering. The lens with or without converter really is excellent close up.
It is a great little camera to try some abstract or simple architectural compositions using Fuji's great mono film simulation modes. These were shot at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford.
These were shot during the FIA European Drag Racing Finals and Flame & Thunder events at Santa Pod, around the pits and display areas. Lots of interesting machines and characters to shoot at this great venue.
Lovely colour pop and rendering at a local fair back in the Summer, where the discreet camera did not attract attention. Zone focused.
Zone focus means the moment is not lost to the need to select an AF point or for the camera to achieve AF, which makes for a compelling street shooting tool.
The X-70 was a great camera to take coast walking in Cornwall this Autumn, where it was in my pocket or in my hand, ready to use. I propped it on the rear screen to take the snap of Theo and I together and used it on my Siriu ultra light tripod with a 10-stop screw-in ND to take the sunset image below.
I can highly recommend use of a wrist strap with this camera. It is so small that a neck strap will add too much bulk to the camera. I use the Fuji half case, which offers protection, a slightly larger grip and includes a wrist strap, all in a nice leather that looks great with the camera.
You will see I have a lens hood fitted as well. The camera profile is shallower without it, but if you hand-hold it a lot I think a hood offers some protection to the somewhat vulnerable lens, as well as reducing flare. I use the JJC one which is cheap and faultlessly made. The screw-in ring that forms the first part of the lens hood assembly also allows you to attach screw-in filters, so the JJC hood is a good double-duty buy.
Small and easy to take along in a small bag or coat pocket and easy to keep at the ready in the hand.
Solid build and quality feel.
Intuitive analogue dials and controls.
Analogue primary controls mean you can see camera settings without even switching on or when shooting away from face level.
Great Fuji family imaging pipeline with lush jpg output and film simulations.
Touch screen....amazing how much you miss touch focus on other cameras once you have used it!
Absence of viewfinder and use of tilt screen makes you think differently about shooting position and style.
Big customisation options for serious shooters with custom settings, Q menu and function buttons.
Wide angle lens (with or without WCL-X70 conversion lens) makes manual zone focus easy.
Performance with wide angle converter is at least as good as without, with excellent IQ.
Discreet, compact appearance means a serious photographer blends in with the crowds of smartphone and compact users, which is awesome for street/event photography.
Excellent close focus performance.
Leaf shutter means using flash at high sync speeds can be interesting.
Can be propped up using rear screen to stabilise it, to take self portraits or long exposures.
Fuji App means you can trigger the camera remotely while looking at your phone....again can be useful for street photography as well as long exposures.
Trash button can be used as function button outside of playback mode.
Battery can be charged via USB from any USB source including a power bank.
Uses same battery and same sized filters as X100 series....useful if you have both.
Older 16MP X-Trans 2 imaging pipeline lacks Acros film simulation and benefits of newer sensor (However 16MP is otherwise perfectly adequate for this camera's use case)
Autofocus is a little on the slow side when the lens group has to travel significantly to gain focus.
Tendency to back focus or miss focus in backlighting situations (Seems slightly worse than other X-Trans 2 cameras here)
AF hunting in low light.
4-way controller button at 9 o' clock is slightly obstructed by protruding LCD screen.
Camera does not detect automatically when wide angle conversion lens is attached to implement lens profile corrections. This has to be set manually and is easy to forget!
Native 18.5mm lens is very good but not stellar. Sharp even at f2.8 in central area but IQ diminishes further out. Optimum across field at f5.6-f8.
Flash partly obscured by lens hood or WCL-X70 wide angle lens
Uses different batteries to X series interchangeable lens cameras.