Fujifilm X70: Where Does It Belong?

· 1.May.2016

The Fujifilm X70 is an unusual camera. It’s more than a point-and-shoot, but not quite an enthusiast camera due to it’s lack of an EVF. With no zoom lens or image stabilization, it seems out of place with most modern digital compact cameras. However, what the X70 has is an unusually large APS-C sensor in a diminutive size, and a full powered processor that keeps up with the larger X series cameras. In fact, the X70 has the exact same sensor and processor found in the X-T1, X-T10, X-E2s, X100T (did I miss another camera?) Who is this camera for and where does it belong within Fujifilm’s camera line-up? Is it for someone who already owns an ILC (interchangeable lens camera) but wants a smaller companion; or for someone wanting to upgrade to a larger APS-C sensor from an enthusiast compact? I have the X70 next to me as I type this, as well as the X-Pro 2, X100T and the X30 to figure out for myself who this camera is for.


Use the X70 in very compact and tight spaces with a nice wide angle perspective

First of all, who or what is this camera for? Street photography, casual family snap shots, a serious ILC backup, vacation point-and-shoot? A solid ‘yes’ to every category, but with a huge caveat: no built-in electronic or optical viewfinder. This can be a deal breaker for some, but I get the design decision. There has to be some compromise if you put a large APS-C sensor in a camera this small. The X70 is smaller than the X30, the Canon G5X, Panasonic LX100 or any other compact enthusiast camera, especially once the camera is turned on and the other cameras’ lenses are fully extended. The X70 has a pancake prime lens. It’s small because there is no viewfinder.

The next issue is the wide-ish and slow-ish 28mm equivalent 18.5mm f/2.8 lens. Unlike the X100’s more street friendly 23mm lens, the X70 has a more social-event friendly 18.5mm lens, great for group shots and selfie images. It’s basically the same angle-of-view that most smartphones have. As a point-and-shoot without a viewfinder, this was a smart focal length decision by Fujifilm. If you are shooting at arms length using the rear LCD screen, or shooting a selfie image or a vlog style video, you want a wide angle lens. How about the slow f/2.8 lens? It’s no f/2.0 like the X100, but it’s no slouch either. Because the focal length is wider, it’s easier to hand hold without shake when the light level drops. As well, this lens is waaay more compact than adding the silly wide converter lens (WCL-X100) on the X100 to make it the same 28mm equivalent focal length. Again I feel that Fujifilm made the right decision balancing size, speed and performance.


Shoot on the street without people noticing. Shot with EF-X20 compact flash

Up to this point there seems to be only controversy to the X70 right? Wrong. This camera has a lot going for it, as long as you’re willing to work with what it does have, not what it doesn’t. The full articulating screen does a great job with family and friends when you need to take a selfie or group-selfie image or video. Who cares about selfies? My wife, my family, friends, and even strangers on the street care. Even if you think its a gimmick, others won’t. This camera is ‘shareable’, meaning your non-photo nerd family and friends may actually want to borrow it or take a few images with it. This can either be a blessing or a curse to you, but generally I found it as an effective tool in social situations. If you don’t want to use it in selfie mode, it’s great for shooting low (or high) angle shots, something you had to guess with the X100T. Not only low angle, but slightly wider angle as well, completely changing the way you may typically compose an image.


Intrigued by the fully articulating selfie screen, Donald points while I shoot

Another feature the X70 has that no other X series camera has is a touch screen. You can set it to pick focus points or focus-and-shoot at the same time, great for discreet street images or use in selfie mode (albeit a bit slow). You can also use the touch screen to view images, scroll, pinch and zoom etc. However, I found this more frustrating than functional with too much lag. It was quicker to use the 4 way control dial and rear toggle. I won’t be too harsh with Fujifilm for the lack of touch screen control (use in menus, more on screen control features while in live view, etc.), but I’m confident they will integrate more features in future firmware updates. The position of the play and delete button on the articulating screen itself is also oddly placed, but clearly there is no other place they could have put it. This is a very compact camera with small control buttons and dials, not great for those with big hands or fingers. The rear toggle dial is horrible though, and same as the ‘too tiny to press’ video button. Both feel cheap. Other than that, the other dials and buttons and switches are up to Fujifilm standard. You can see your shutter speed, aperture and exposure compensation settings even with the camera turned off.


The 18.5mm lens (28mm equivalent) is just perfect for wide angle street photography

So who is this camera for? If you can’t shoot without an EVF or OVF, this camera is not for you. If you don’t like the wider 28mm equivalent lens, forcing you to get closer to your subject when shooting, again, this camera is not for you. However, may I suggest to everyone who feels a real camera has to have a vewifinder of some sort, give this camera a try. The wider lens allows you to shoot closer but at arms length from your subject, disarming them when you ask to take a close-up image. Yes an EVF-OVF will allow for more exact framing, but photography isn’t just about features and functions. If you enjoy photographing people, eye contact, gauging reaction, and personality are just as important as megapixels, lens sharpness and ‘perfect framing’. I found that more people were willing to allow me to take their picture with a smaller camera and without the use of a viewfinder. I also found that more people ignored me with such a small camera, assuming I was just a tourist or an avid amateur.


Even if you own the X-Pro 2, the X70 opens up different shooting opportunities due to its size

If you currently own a Fujifilm X series camera and you’ve always wanted an ‘almost pocketable’ point-and-shoot with the same size sensor as your main camera, the X70 is the perfect X series fit. It has a decent wide angle lens, it has the right dimensions, and has the features you need to take high quality snapshots of family and friends. At the same time, you can use it as a serious camera if you need it to be, great as a compact back up. If you are upgrading from the X30 or any other compact enthusiast camera, you’re in for a treat. Yes you lose your EVF, but what you gain is a much larger sensor in basically the same compact size. Due to the APS-C sensor upgrade, you will see a noticeable improvement in dynamic range, high ISO performance, resolution, etc. This isn’t going to be my full technical review or final say on this quirky new X series camera. I still have to review the wide angle converter, and I still want to go over some design and functional features that I want to see improved. For now, let’s just say that I’m very happy using the X70 as my daily back-up shooter. When I’m out with my wife or spending time with family and friends, I leave the X-Pro 2 at home and I grab the X70. I’m not worried that I’m compromising image quality or image control by carrying a camera that is basically as small and ignorable as my smartphone.


The X70 is a great compact camera to carry while with family and friends