My wife and I had a short trip to Malta coming up and of course my thoughts immediately turned to what gear should I take with. Normally I would happily have taken my X-Pro2, which I love. However I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to borrow an X-70 from Fujifilm UK, so I thought let’s travel light for a change and take up their kind offer. I had been considering purchasing one as a travel camera so this would be a good test.
When I received the X-70 I was also delighted to have been given the wide-angle converter and the optical viewfinder to try out.
If you want to read a thorough review of the X-70 and all its features, then this article is not for you. This piece will be purely about how the X70 performed as a lightweight travel camera.
So let’s start with my initial thoughts on trying it for the first time. It’s beautifully compact and fits easily in a jacket pocket and its very light too. What’s amazing is that this camera, barely larger than most compact cameras and smaller in length then my Smartphone, still houses the same APC sensor as the X100T! I suppose its nearest rival is the Ricoh GR, which is a similar size and also fitted with a APC sensor. However if you already own or have owned a Fuji X series camera then you will feel more at home with the X70 as it truly operates and resembles the X100, all that’s missing is the viewfinder. Sadly for me it’s this lack of viewfinder that may make you think twice about purchasing one. Being a photographer of a certain age I am more used to composing my images through a viewfinder. Of course if you are one of the younger Smartphone generation then you will be more used to composing using the large LCD screen. I must admit talking about the LCD I do love the way that the screen is articulated. In fact, in can swivel right up and forward facing, so that you can use it to take selfies! For me the main disadvantage of just having the LCD screen is that it did prove at times difficult to see in bright sunlight. Not usually a problem where I live in London, but definitely an issue in the bright sunlight of Malta. Luckily enough for me, I could slide the optional optical viewfinder into the hotshoe. It worked great for composition but there is no information displayed in the viewfinder to verify focus achieved etc. Just the reassuring beep when you locked on focus, although you have no idea as to whether it’s locked onto the correct subject. It does however at least display frame lines for both the 18mm lens and for the wider angle of view when you fit the lens converter. It’s a shame that sliding in the viewfinder doesn’t switch off the LCD. It’s not even an option in the menu sadly; something for a future firmware update please Fuji? The LCD being on when not required drains the battery and can be distracting. I know that having an inbuilt viewfinder would have made it larger and nearer the X100 in size and perhaps even stolen sales from the aforementioned camera. It’s also perhaps a shame that the method that Sony has used in the RX100, of a pop up viewfinder couldn’t have been utilised. I’m sure Sony have that design patented though.
The fixed lens has the full frame equivalent focal length of 28mm, which is a bit wider, than I am used to when shooting street photography. However for travel photography this focal length is more useful for landscapes and architecture then the 35mm equivalent of the X100. As mentioned earlier I was also fortunate enough to have the wide-angle convertor to try out. To use this you firstly have to unscrew and remove the front ring of the existing lens. Make sure you store this ring somewhere safe! You then simply screw in the wide-angle lens. This then converts the optical focal length to a wider equivalent of 21mm. Make sure also that you have updated the X70 firmware to the latest version that then adds this lens as an option in the camera’s menu and ensures the inbuilt software corrects for distortion and aberrations. I then assigned one of the exterior buttons on the left of the camera body to enable me to quickly tell the camera when the converter was fitted. It’s a shame there is no way that the camera can’t recognise this automatically, as it’s easy to forget to select this in a hurry. The convertor did however work perfectly and proved very useful at times to have the option of this wider angle of view. The only downside for me is that fitting it adds considerable bulk and weight to the camera totally removing it’s primary function for me as a compact, lightweight and portable camera! I must say that after a few days I preferred to use the camera ‘naked’ (the camera not me!) without adding the viewfinder or converter, so that the X70 remained lightweight and truly pocketable.
If however you find the 28mm equivalent lens too wide at times, there are menu options to crop to 35mm and 50mm equivalents. Now of course this is just a digital crop so you are ‘throwing’ away megapixels, but if you are stuck in not being able to get closer to your subject with your feet, then at least this is an option.
A useful feature built into the camera for travel photography is its WiFi capability. Just like other newer cameras in the X series, this allows you, when coupled with Fuji’s free downloadable app (the same app incidentally that is used on the rest of Fuji’s range) to transfer photos to your smart device for posting on social media. A great option for making your friends, stuck back at home working envious! You can also use the app to operate the camera remotely if required.
One final point is that the X70 doesn’t come with a separate battery charger. It can be charged by either the supplied mains adapter which plugs directly into the camera, or indeed by plugging the lead into any USB port such as on the laptop you may be traveling with?
So reading all the above you may be feeling that there would be no way I would ever want to purchase or recommend this camera? However on the whole I did enjoy using it on my short trip to Malta. I loved its small size and the results it produced were as good as that from an X100, which is no surprise really considering they share the same sensor. So if lack of a viewfinder doesn’t bother you or you don’t mind purchasing and fitting the extra optical viewfinder, then the X-70 would indeed make a great take anywhere travel camera. Its small size and tilting LCD also make it a great choice for my first love of street photography, where the touch screen capability also comes into its own. So much so that I must admit I was reluctant to hand the X70 back and subsequently have purchased an almost unused one off eBay!
Same batteries as the X100 series
Same sensor as X-T1 and X100S/T
No viewfinder (screen difficult to view in sunlight) could have had at least a pop up one like Sony fit into their RX100
Buttons could be fiddly if you have large hands