Last week I received the Fuji X70 which is described by them as a “Premium Compact Camera”.
When I first read about this camera back in January I was very sceptical I have to say. I wondered if it would simply be like a smaller X-M1. I have an X-M1, but I think its the most disconnected camera in the Fuji X range and I simply never use it.
The X70, I thought, might be the same.
And to a certain extent it is; It doesn’t have a viewfinder. To me, that was the killer. No Viewfinder = No point in my mind.
However, I was intrigued by the fact that it has the same sensor as my beloved Fuji X100T and so my interest was peaked.
As ever, this isn’t a technical review, I’ll probably get around to a more indepth something or other later in the summer but for now, these are my observations of using the Fuji X70 for just under a week.
When I received the camera, honestly, I was pretty staggered by the size of the thing. Part of me, though, thought actually, you know what, this is too small. When I’m shooting on the streets (I don’t think I’ll be using the Fuji X70 much as a wedding photographer), I like to be able to feel the camera and work with it.
I was concerned that the size of the camera would almost be a negative feature, rather than a positive.
I changed my mind pretty much straight away on that when I spent a day in London shooting with it:
Fuji X70: 1/850th Second, f/7.1, ISO 200, 18.5 mm
So, whilst the above photograph isn’t anything spectacular, it shows, I think, the benefit of this super light camera and shooting it from the hip.
Fuji X70: 1/640th Second, f/5.6, ISO 200, 18.5 mm
Fuji X70: 1/850th Second, f/10, ISO 400, 18.5 mm
Fuji X70: 1/900th Second, f/11, ISO 400, 18.5 mm
Fuji X70 Image Quality
Predominantly, of course, its the image quality that counts.
There isn’t any point in using a small compact camera if the image quality is not what you expect.
The fact that the Fuji X70 uses the same X-Trans II sensor as the X100T should be enough of an explanation. The camera uses the ubiquitous Classic Chrome film simulation, but of course, does not have the Acros monocrome film simulation found the X-Trans III based Fuji X-Pro2.
I tend to shoot almost all of my street photography images in colour (which is a stark contrast to my social documentary stuff), and Classic Chrome is my go to film simulation.
The in-camera settings that I use are very similar to the settings I’m using for all my X-Series cameras with the exception of the X-Pro2:
Noise Reduction -2
Dynamic Range -Auto
White Balance -Auto
Bearing in mind the size of the camera, the image files are a very adequate 4896 x 3264 pixels and I’ve already blown images up to A0 with no problem when printing.
Ultimately, where the Fuji X70 shines (for me at least), is in it’s ability to truly – and I mean truly – be discreet. The X-T10 is close, the X30 even closer. But the Fuji X70 really is a compact camera. Really. And it empowers you to get closer, or allow people to get closer to you. As a people watcher type of photographer, the Fuji X70 is kind of revolutionising the way I’m shooting candid images on the street.
Fuji X70: 1/800th Second, f/5.6, ISO 200, 18.5 mm Fuji X70: 1/640th Second, f/5.6, ISO 400, 18.5 mm
The X100T has an excellent 23mm F2.0 lens. Way back when I was shooting DSLR, my preferred focal length was 35mm (full frame equivalent), and actually it still is.
The lens on the X70 is a slower F2.8 but wider 18.5 mm focal length.
So straight away, we can see that the X100T is going to be better at low light shooting, albeit marginally.
However, the size and weight of the X70 means we can shoot at slower shutter speeds to mitigate this to a certain extent (depending on the subject matter of course).
For me, I love that 35mm FF focal length and I’m getting used to the slightly wider view from the X70.
I instinctively lifted the X70 to my eye when I first got it out of the box. Big mistake as there is no viewfinder in the camera (you can purchase an adapter).
For me, the reason I never really gelled with the X-M1, as mentioned, was because of the lack of viewfinder. But then the X-M1 was bigger…..and didn’t have the X-Trans II Sensor.
And you know what, I have learnt to like the LCD shooting experience of the X70. I’m not a hundred percent convinced I wouldn’t prefer a viewfinder as at least an option, but obviously one of the reasons this camera is so small is because of the lack of view finder.
Instead of the traditional way of shooting, in the X70, you have a remarkably versatile tilting screen, which even tilts vertically above the camera to allow you to take “selfies”.
When shooting with the X100T I have to use the viewfinder, or shoot from the hip using a zone focus technique.
I can still use zone focusing with the X70 of course, but the benefit of the flip down screen is plain to see. Additionally, the X70 implements some neat touch screen features where you can use your finger to very quickly touch, focus & shoot.
That’s a great advantage when out on the street shooting.
HOWEVER – as mentioned earlier; the Fuji X70, being so small and light means I can even use it with one hand, without the flip screen down.
Fuji X70 in comparison to my (battered) iPhone 6 Plus
Let’s go racing; Cheltenham Festival 2016
Once a year I go to the Cheltenham Festival with friends. I’m not a gambler, but I save a few pounds each week for this day. Every race I chose the 7/1 option (or closest horse). My logic is that at 7/1 it’s not an outside, and its not a favourite so the winnings could be good. I came home £170 up – yeah! Out of the seven races, I got one first, three seconds and two thirds…….Kev’s top tip for horse racing – go for the 7/1 options!
Anyway…… back to the Fuji X70. Last year, I went racing with the X30 and as you may see there, I’m nor really interested in the horses when I’m shooting. I’m interested in the people.
Every single one of the images below were shot using Auto Foucs, at F2.8 without the flip screen down. Simply pointing and shooting from the hip. One hand (as the other was occupied with Guinness).
It’s a series of real snapshots, but snapshots that were easy to get. Very easy:
What’s best, the Fuji X70 or the Fuji X100T?
This is the question I’ve been asking myself a lot. When would I use one over the other? And I actually sat down and came up with a list of scenarios where I would use either the X100T or the X70.
In really low light I’m going to need the X100T. I don’t use flash, and I find that I use the Optical View Finder on the X100T a lot when shooting in low light. The X70 doesn’t have an optical view finder of course.
For that reason, and also because of the build and form factor, the X100T will remain one of my primary cameras as a wedding photographer.
However, the X70 really comes into its own when I pick up a camera to go and shoot street photography as I already mentioned.
In fact, for me, its superseded all other cameras in the range when it comes to shooting on the street.
I like to get in close and I like to observe and prepare to shoot. Unless I need to use different lenses (for example, I may use a MF lens on the X-Pro2 or X-T10 for rapid zone focusing and shooting), the X70 is an ideal camera for shooting on the street.
The fact that you don’t even have to press the shutter button when using the touch options is a marvellous thing in itself and lends the camera perfectly to candid street shooting.
I have to say I’m not a huge user of the touch screen, but I’m sure we’ll see more of these on future cameras from all manufacturers. There are also a couple of niggly design issues with the X70 – for example, the the left directional button is way too close to the LCD screen and the Drive button is in an awkward place.
Whilst the X70 isn’t going to replace my X100T, my X100T will be a lot less active for my personal and street photography work.
Fuji X70 = Great for me when shooting candid street and social documentary photography.