Gear Reviews

The X70 – perfect street photographer’s camera?

· 15.November.2016

The Fujifilm X70 introduced earlier this year has tended to be overlooked by the launches of the X-Pro2 and X-T2, which between them took most of the spotlight and accolades. However the X70 is a little gem of a camera and definitely worth another look.

A few months ago I wrote an article for FujiLove on how the X70 being so compact makes a great travel camera. This time I am going to discuss how for me it has become my carry everywhere camera for my passion of street photography.

Firstly lets take a brief look at the main specifications:

  • 16-megapixel sensor – same one as is the X100T and X-T1
  • 18mm f2.8 fixed lens (28mm full frame equivalent)
  • Articulated LCD screen
  • Touch LCD screen – touch to focus or to focus and take photo
  • Mechanical and electronic leaf shutter – can shoot fully silently

So to put it simply it’s a X100T but without a viewfinder but with a touch sensitive fully articulated LCD screen, with a much smaller and lighter body and at a fraction of the cost!


Fujifilm X70

Now over the years I have owned and used many cameras for street photography, usually however finding each one has a shortcoming in at least one department, which for me stops it from being the perfect street tool. So when the X70 was released I managed to get one on loan from Fujifilm UK to try out. By the end of the two-week loan period I loved it so much I went out and bought one!

So this is what I look for in a street camera:

  • It needs to be small and light. For two reasons; firstly so that it’s inconspicuous when shooting on the street. A DSLR stands out a ‘mile’ announcing to all that you a serious photographer. Secondly if a camera is heavy and bulky I am less likely to take it with me all the time. And remember no camera with you means missed opportunities and possibly that missing that award winning shot (you can relate to that Tomash?) The X70 is so small it easily slips into a coat pocket and I have also managed at a pinch to fit it in a trouser pocket.
  • The sensor needs to be large enough so that the quality of the photos can be used in exhibitions and books. No problem here with its APS-C sensor and 16 megapixels to work with.
  • Ability to shoot at higher ISOs like 3200 or 6400 and still get acceptable results. Living in the UK the light can often be bad and I also shoot at night, however again no issues here from the little Fuji.
  • Tilting LCD screen. It’s useful because you can use it to take photos shooting from the hip without people noticing. They tend to assume you are just fiddling with the camera. Such a shame Fujifilm omitted this useful feature from the X-Pro2. Apparently this was from feedback from professional photographers?


Fujifilm X70

So how do I set up my X70 for a day’s street photography?

Well, firstly I shoot with the focus switch set to manual. This is because with the wide-angle lens I can easily use the technique of zone focusing (again refer to an earlier article on FujiLove to learn more).

I set my aperture to f8 and my shutter speed to either 1/500 or if there is not much light then I reduce this to 1/250 or less if required. The aperture is f8 to give me a large depth of field. The relatively fast shutter speed is so as to avoid my photos being spoilt by camera shake or motion blur.

To ensure correct exposure I then set the ISO to auto with the range from 200 to 6400 at the top end. So I can let the camera decide on correct exposure, with just an occasional adjustment from me by using the exposure compensation dial.

I then set my focus aid to ‘focus peaking’ using the red outline; as for me this shows up more clearly. Using the focus scale I set this to 2 metres, as I find this is about how close I normally am to my subjects. However the f8 aperture ensures that everything is in focus from quite a bit closer then that and certainly a lot further away too.

As for the LCD screen I set this up with the touch sensitivity on and set to ‘touch to shoot’. I do this because again just tapping the screen it becomes a lot less obvious then stabbing at the shutter button.

Finally I shoot in jpg and raw simultaneously. For my jpg’s I use the Classic Chrome simulation mostly. Sometimes switching to Velvia is I feel that the bright-saturated vivid colours would suit the subject better.


Fujifilm X70

Do I miss having no viewfinder? I must admit I thought I would but having used the X70 for around six months now the honest answer is no, not at all. People notice you less if you are not raising the camera to your eye. One tip however, it’s worth increasing the brightness of the viewfinder to the maximum setting. This is because at its default level I found it difficult to view in bright sunlight. Not any more though I’m happy to report (there is an optional clip on optical viewfinder available from Fujifilm if you really want one. However it does make the camera less pocketable).

Some people criticise the fact that the maximum aperture is f2.8. However for me shooting mainly at f8 this obviously isn’t a problem. I also initially thought I would prefer a 23mm lens (35mm equivalent) as in the X100T but again you just get used to shooting with a wider lens. I have found for instance that you can get really close to people, positioning them at the edge of the frame and they just assume you are shooting something else!


Fujifilm X70

So there we have it a truly pocketable and useable street camera at a very reasonable price coupled with great image quality. Can’t wait to see where Fujifilm goes next with this series!