This is a detailed review of the Fuji X70
Originally Published: June, 2016
X70 Firmware Ver.1.10
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Excluding iterative releases of the X100, the X70 marks Fuji’s second fixed focal length “Premium Compact Camera.”
It came as a bit of a surprise alongside the announcement of the X-Pro2. Fuji were likely hoping to recapture the magic of the X100 again, but with a miniaturized version, and more consumer-centric features.
Overall, the feature-set is great. It’s the “miniaturization” that I think has the biggest impact on the usability of the camera, or perhaps more accurately, how the camera is used. Whether or not it succeeds will come down to your shooting style. In that respect, maybe they did recapture the original X100’s magic.
Not much to say here. All the usual suspects are included, wait, all but one, the charger. Instead, we get a USB cable with AC-5VF AC power adapter. If you want to charge your battery, or the spare battery you’ll likely want, you’ll need to get yourself a dedicated charger, either Fuji’s own BC-65N→, or a third party option. I’ve had mixed results with third party batteries and chargers for Fuji products, so tread carefully on that front.1
The build of the X70 is about what you’d expect. It isn’t quite up to par with the X100 overall, sort of like how the X-T10 compared with the X-T1. The thumb grip seems a little stuck on, but otherwise it’s nice and solid. After spending some more time with it and revisiting this section, I would say the build is somewhere between X100 and X-T10 territory. It’s a solid-feeling little camera. Way nicer than what I remember of the GR, for whatever that’s worth.
Leaf. Fast at 1/4000 of a second, and nice and quiet. Sounds like an X100.
With no ND filter to slow it down, you might find yourself having to stop down, or switch to “Electronic Shutter” mode, which isn’t too big a deal.
Another “Premium Compact Camera” without weather sealing. I can understand the reasoning here—a consumer-targeted camera needs its price kept in check—but having to even consider rain, dust, or colder temperatures is becoming less and less acceptable for any of our electronics. Weather sealing used to be the exception, but it really ought to be the rule.
The X70 features a nice, solid-feeling all metal body, save for the battery door, the screen bezel, and a few switches and toggles. No magnesium here, but it feels as solid as the X100T does in my hand. Maybe even more so.
Bottom Plate and Tripod Mount
Seamed metal. Fuji’s tolerances here are quite good, but there’s something about a tripod mount being milled out of a solid piece of metal that’s reassuring. I haven’t heard of any L-plates being made for the X70 yet, but you could probably get away with a universal adapter with a camera this small. You’ll have a tough time finding one that gets you access to the battery/SD card chamber, but that might not matter as much to those who charge via USB.
Size and Weight
Speaking of small, this camera fits the bill. I can slip this thing into the breast pocket of a jacket easily, or let it dangle from a wrist strap and hardly know it’s there.
We think our other X Series cameras are small, but next to the X70 they look like DSLRs.
At 346.5g (just over 12 ounces), the X70 is significantly lighter than an X100. Where the X100 feels surprisingly dense and heavy for its size, the X70 weighs about what you’d expect a premium camera ought to weigh. Sling it across your chest, and you won’t even know it’s there.
Battery and Memory Card Chamber
Same spring-loaded switch as on X100 cameras. It works great, but adds to my constant confusion of “Where is the memory card on this camera again?” I know, the trials of having multiple cameras. But consistency in this sort of thing matters when you pair an X-T1 or X-Pro2 with any other Fuji camera, including the X70.
The SD card can be a little tough to spring out of its chamber for larger hands.
I quite like it. It’s plastic, but it opens a closes well, and the spring mechanism is good. No complaints, especially given how often I need to access what’s behind it.
Buttons, Dials, and Switches
Here’s my usual rundown of all the ways in which you’d interact with the camera, except for the the Touchscreen, which will be addressed separately.
Power Switch: Nice, easy to engage, doesn’t get switched on accidentally. In fact, I don’t think that has happened once for me.
Shutter Release: If you’ve used an X-T1, you’ll be familiar with the shutter release on the X70. It’s a good button, but it’s a little strange they didn’t use the same threaded shutter release that’s found on X100 bodies. I was hoping the X-T1 was going to be the only threadless anomaly.
Exposure Compensation Dial: Same size and function as the X100T, but shares the same grip as the X30. This is another surprise. I figured, and would have hoped, we’d be cross-hatched on the grips front from the X100T onward.
Shutter Speed Dial: Same as above, same as the X100, can’t be turned from “A” to “Bulb,” but it’s lower profile than the X100.
SR Auto Switch: Feels about the same as the X-T10. It’s plastic, but a nice switch.
DRIVE Button: Nice button with good clicking, accessible with your index finger.
Record/Fn Button: This is the least usable part on the top plate. You kinda need to jam your finger next to the Exposure Compensation button, but video won’t accidentally get triggered.
Rear Toggle: Curiously, the X70 marks the return of the old X100(S) Toggle. It works about as well as the one on the X100S does, toggles about the same, and is more spongy than the X100T’s dial is as a button.
D-Pad: The D-pad on the X70 is the same size as the X100T, and similar in style, but the tactile feedback isn’t as good. What’s worse, the left button is pretty hard to press. Pulling the tilt screen out helps significantly, but that’s not really an ideal solution. Unfortunately, this just isn’t a great D-pad. It works, but Fuji has made better.
Rear Buttons: The other 4 buttons around the D-Pad are a little bit mixed. On my X70, the buttons all click a little different from one another—just slightly—but they all click pretty well.
LCD Buttons: Both the Image Playback and Delete buttons are on the top bezel of the LCD. These buttons are good, with good clickiness, but they’Re small, and not positioned terribly well. It’s a bit awkward to have to reach across the screen to engage playback, then back to the D-pad to cycle images, then across again to the Trash button, then back to confirm with OK. You can opt for using the focus ring to cycle through images which might save you a bit of thumb travel.
This is simply a trade off. Fuji had to make decisions about where to put buttons in order to add control. So while these buttons aren’t in the best position, they’re the right buttons to be where they are.
Finally, the Trash button can also be set as a function when not in Playback mode.
Focus Mode Selector: This is probably the poorest switch of its kind I’ve used on a Fuji camera. My finger has a tendency to slip right off the switch as I flick it from setting to setting. It’s strange Fuji opted for a switch—more consistent with their interchangeable bodies—as opposed to the vertical switch that’s on the side of X100 bodies. Especially given the almost hidden function button on the side of the camera. Adding a second control there would have made the secret function button more obvious.
Hidden Side Function Button: You’d be forgiven if you already have this camera and didn’t realize this button exists. Unmarked and almost invisible, it looks like one of those buttons that generally isn’t used aside from when resetting the device. It is, in fact, an extra function button that, while welcome, doesn’t have a ton of travel.
This is an area where the miniaturization of the camera is really felt. Making a small camera with a big screen and lots of buttons can be a conflicting strategy. The thing to keep in mind is how often these buttons are going to be used on a camera like this. If you want to be tinkering with the camera between each image you make, you may want to look at the X100T or perhaps an interchangeable option.
However, despite me bagging on some of the buttons, they are definitely serviceable, and for what I think this camera’s intended use is (more of an auto, casual/street shooter), they are more than adequate. And once the Trash and Side function buttons have been taken into account, the number of functions you have immediate access to on a camera this small is truly impressive.
Where this camera really shines is one-handed operation. Using a wrist strap, it’s quite easy to make adjustments to exposure compensation, and even possible to adjust the aperture with a spare finger if you’re careful.
Miniaturization of electronics can be a dangerous game if the rest of the user experience isn’t accounted for. Such has been the case for many mirrorless cameras as designers wrestle with button size, number, and placement on these relatively small cameras. As I mentioned in my X-Pro2 review, Fuji are getting dangerously close to button placement perfection. The X70 won’t win any awards here, but given the limited space Fuji had to work with, they’ve done an admirable job getting so much direct access to controls.
Despite looking a little stuck on, the thumb grip works pretty well, along with the front grip. Fuji describes the front grip as “large.” That might be overstating it a bit, but there’s more there to grab onto than there is on the X100 cameras. I hope this is a glimpse at what’s to come with the next X100/X200.
Once you get the X70 set up the way you like it, the controls work great. I miss the Focus Stick I have on my X-Pro2, but the X70 is simply too small for it to be added with how things are currently laid out. When I’m not Zone Focusing, I like to set my autofocus to the wide rectangle Zone setting, and mostly forget about it.
Changing the aperture, shutter speed and exposure compensation is a snap, and I’m happy to choose between any of my 3 Auto ISO settings with a camera like this.
The only real problem you might run into is if you absolutely need access to so many functions that you want to set the left D-pad button as something. As discussed above, it’s not the easiest button to get to, but I just set it to a function I don’t need quick or regular access to, if any access at all.
Mirrorless camera users have always enjoyed being less conspicuous than DSLR shooters. The X70 takes that a step further.
I mentioned above it could easily fit into a jacket pocket, the same can be said for the front pocket of a pair of chinos. When I want to head out at lunch for a little photography break from work, my X-Pro2 is easily spotted, and that might not be desirable. With the X70, I can put it in my pants pocket along with my hand, and it would be pretty tough to tell I’ve got a camera.
The X70 is also well into point and shoot size range. If you’re in a city, it’s not hard to look like a tourist, and capture street photography unnoticed.
Viewfinder, Or Lack Thereof
The X70 is LCD only. If you want a viewfinder, you might think about the add-on External Optical Viewfinder (VF-X21). I’ll talk more about that in the Accessories section of the review.
The LCD is as good what you’d find in any other Fuji camera. 3 inches in size, 1,040K dots with about 100% coverage. It tilts like the X-T1’s LCD, but has two more tricks the X-T1, or any other Fuji camera, can’t do:
- It flips up 180˚ for all your selfie needs.
- It’s touch enabled.
This is a feature I’m having a tough time getting used to, after so many years of interfacing with my cameras via buttons, dials, and a D-pad. The Touchscreen features break out to two modes, Shooting, and Playback.
While shooting, you can either tap the area you you want the camera to focus on (within the limits of the cameras’s AF points), or focus and immediately capture a photo on tap, what Fuji refers to as “Touch Shot.”
Focus Area Selection: With tap to focus, the camera doesn’t actually focus until you press the shutter release half way. You’re really just selecting the focus point. It’s a bit of a miss to not have the camera focus on tap as well here, or at least have it as an option.
Touch Shot: It works well, and in good light, it’s nice and fast. In lower light, it’s possible to move the camera off a smaller object on which you intend to focus, and confuse the camera. The camera will also not maintain the AF point used in your last Touch Shot. It resets back to wherever the AF point was previously set by the user. This would be less confusing with the Display mode set to OFF, but even then, the UI will temporarily appear after the image is captured, showing a different AF point. These two items should be addressed in a firmware update as one could assume the wrong focus point was used for the photo.
UI: There’s a nice bit of UI in the top right corner of the screen that can be turned on and off in section 2 of the Setup menu. It’s quite handy.
The gestures most of us are familiar with on our smartphones have been incorporated. This isn’t an iPhone-calibre touchscreen, but for those who want to swipe through their photos, double tap or pinch to zoom, and then drag the image around the screen, the X70 can accommodate.
My favourite aspect of this is pinching to check focus. It is a much better experience than pressing the toggle button, then zooming out a bit, and then arrowing your way around the image with the D-pad.
Autofocus is nice and swift. Particularly in those centre 9 AF points as we’re used on previous X-Trans II cameras.
There can be a bit of a robotic noise as the focus mechanisms move into place, but it isn’t offensive, and won’t disturb your shooting.
Face and Eye Detection
The X70 has both and they work as well as on any other Fuji camera.
The full suite of manual focus assistants are here; Standard, Digital Split Image, and Focus Peaking. Manual focus can be a little tricky, especially with the aperture set to around f/5.6 or f/8 as the grips on the aperture ring can get in the way of the focus ring if you grasp it at the sides. You might also find your hand in the frame as you’re trying to focus.
What I’ve found myself doing is cradling the camera on my middle finger, thumb on the left side of the body, and using my index finger at the very bottom of the focus ring. This works great.
The less accessible focus ring does come with an advantage, it isn’t nudged out of place as easily as it is on the X100 bodies. This will make zone focusing a little bit easier. f/11 covering 2 metres to 5 metres, or 3 metres to infinity on this 28mm equivalent lens is really nice.
One odd behaviour I've noticed is after focusing on something really close, if I hit the Playback button to review the photo I just took, upon exiting playback with a quick half-press of the shutter release, or hitting the Playback button a second time, the camera will reset its focus point to a much greater distance.
Bizarrely, when set to manual focus, the camera will drag itself through its focus range starting from infinity and then back to the last point of focus.
The former can be quite frustrating, and the workaround results in an unnecessary slowdown.
Not Just the X70
Unfortunately, the X70 isn’t the only camera that exhibits this weird behaviour. My X100T will also reset its focus after exiting playback. I’m surprised I didn’t notice this before, or, if I did, I didn’t think to document it and check other cameras. Let’s hope this is something Fuji can address in firmware.
The X70 features an 18.5mm f/2.8 wide angle lens that’s a 28mm equivalent, right around the same as an iPhone, and a focal length loved by landscaper photographers and street shooters alike.
Seven elements in five groups, two aspherical.
The X70 is nice and sharp wide open with the exception of the top corners in particular, which get soft. The extreme corners get very soft, and even Fuji’s in-camera corrections can’t compensate. By f/4, the corners tighten up considerably. I peg maximum sharpness at f/5.6 - f/8 with diffraction setting in slightly at f/11, and heavily by f/16.
Bokeh quality is decent, especially wide open, but this is a pretty wide angle lens and after stopping down, out of focus areas can get busy and “nervous.” You’ll be able to isolate your subject a whole lot better with this camera than any phone can though.
Wide open, I detect some fringing on high contrast, high frequency areas on RAFs, but again, stopping down reduces aberrations dramatically. JPEG shooters needn’t worry much here.
The X70 can focus as close as 10cm.
Happily, the X70 doesn’t have the haze seen on X100 cameras when shooting at close distances, even wide open. The plane of focus stays nice and crisp.
The X70 features Fuji’s second generation EXR Processor II. I suspect, and hope it will be the last of its kind.
The X70 also sadly includes the old menu style, another feature I really hope we won’t see again.
We have the the new UI first seen in the X100T. Unfortunately the UI still doesn’t rotate on the LCD when capturing portrait images.
The usual 1080p at various frame rates from 24 to 60 fps are included. Fuji have improved their video capture to the point where it’s no longer a feature you should ignore, but video is not the reason I like Fuji cameras, and if I were to get serious about video, I’d look at a GH4.
The X70 uses the same NP-95 battery and charger as the X100, which is nice, although it’s not likely many people will own both cameras to enjoy the convenience. CIPA rates the battery at 330 charges. In my use, it seems on par with other Fuji cameras. Not bad considering all your composing has to be done with the LCD.
The X70 was announced with its fair share of accessories. Everything from hoods to X100-style conversion lenses to cases to an optical viewfinder. Here’s a quick rundown of X70-specific accessories.
Wide Angle Converter
Much like the X100, the X70 has its own wide angle converter, the “WCL-X70.” The WCL-X70 is shockingly large. It’s bigger than the WCL-X100, and almost the size of the TCL-X100, which is also too large for me to use. The converter is really nice to cradle in your left hand, but it seems like such a shame to add so much size and weight to the ultra-compact X70.
If you really want to get to a 21mm equivalent, you’d be better off with any interchangeable body and an XF 14mm f/2.8. The lens isn’t much heavier than the converter is, and on an X-E2(S), less than 50g heavier for the whole package.
If you really need to go wider and the X70 is your only camera, the converter is a nice option, but given the size and weight penalty, I have a feeling there won’t be a lot of these sold.
There’s also the potential for users to start getting confused about how to change their focal length on a fixed focal length camera. Is it a hardware converter they stick on the front of their lens? Or a digital converter with in-camera upscaling?
Next, we have the LH-X70 Lens Hood. While it does nearly double the depth of the camera, and all but eliminates its pocketability, it isn’t anywhere near as offensively-sized as the converter. For those who want to cradle the camera in their left hand for added stability, the LH-X70 could make an excellent, if expensive addition. I’m sure you could find a third-party alternative somewhere. →
Half Case and Strap
This is the first Fujifilm case I’ve used extensively and I’m really impressed with it. This isn’t the grade of leather you can get that still smells like meat, but it’s pretty good. The half case improves the grip, the battery and SD card chamber is still nicely accessible via a handsome snapping door, and the included matching wrist strap is really nice.
The only minor quibble I have with the case is it can make setting your aperture I little more difficult, but it’s not too big a deal.
If you find yourself bringing the X70 up to your eye to compare for the first little while like I did, you might be interested in the VF-X21 External Optical Viewfinder. It’s an exquisite little accessory with stunning light transmission that Fuji claims is 90%, but for what it costs, I was expecting much more functionality from it. You can see frame lines—both standard and wide angle converted— aaaand that’s about it.
There aren’t any contacts at the bottom of the viewfinder that you might expect would pass information to and from the viewfinder. You can’t check focus, exposure via a histogram, or white balance. The LCD doesn’t even turn off when the viewfinder is attached. This makes composing with it in low light a little bit awkward as you have the light of the LCD shining on your cheek the whole time.
For me, the X70 is a camera that begs to be used naked, and kept as compact as possible. For the photographers out there who like to baby their gear, the case and strap could be a great option. Aside from that, I’d personally pass on the rest.
As mentioned in the introduction, whether the X70 succeeds or fails for you will depend on how you want to use it and what you want from it. It’s a camera that begs the photographer to let it make some of the decisions, whether that’s ISO, what to focus on, or everything via Scene Recognition Auto mode. If you’re not prepared to embrace some automation, this may not be the right camera for you.
For those who are able to let go of some controls, the X70 can provide an excellent shooting experience with exceptional image quality. The more I use it, the more I like it, and for how small it is, there’s almost no reason not to just through it in my bag, or slip it in a pocket when another camera is too large.
The Limits of Miniaturization
As mentioned in the Introduction, miniaturization is potentially the make or break aspect of the camera. When I first handled the X70, I was a little turned off by it, and figured I would end up doing a quick overview of it from a handling perspective. As time went on and I used it more, and I allowed myself to be open to it’s potential, I realized that there’s more to it than I first realized.
Does it capture that same magic my first X100S did? No, but for a photographer who doesn’t care to compose through a viewfinder and wants an ultra-small camera that delivers the best of Fuji’s second generation sensor/processor combo, the X70 could have some of that magic.
Skip a Smartphone Upgrade
Most readers of this site likely fall into the enthusiast or better category of photographer, but for the casual shooter who might be reading this site, the X70 could be a really good fit. If you’re thinking about a smartphone upgrade primarily for the camera, consider putting that money towards a camera that will really take your photography to the next level.