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Sep 08

Review: Fujifilm X70

Fuji kicked off the X-series with the original X100, a camera that had a distinct retro aesthetic, great image quality and an optical viewfinder.  It made waves and eventually led to Fuji’s successful X-Series of interchangeable lens cameras.  The X100 has seen two more iterations, and today I’m looking at the newest ‘little brother’ of the X100 series: the Fujifilm X70.  The X70 features the same APS-C sized sensor as its bigger brother, the X100T, but it comes in a more compact body and with a wider fixed lens of 18.5mm (28mm Full Frame equivalent field of view).  To reduce the size, Fuji also removed the excellent hybrid viewfinder and replaced it with the first touch screen on a Fuji camera.  Does Fuji have another hit on its hands?

The Fujifilm X70

The Fujifilm X70

Construction and Handling

The X70 is a small camera, but it’s built very solidly.  The camera is constructed predominantly of metal, and there is no flex anywhere on the body.  The dials have a positive click, and the buttons feel nice in operation. However, due to the compact size, the area for grip is rather small.  I did get used to the minimal thumb and finger grips throughout my time with the camera. The body is light, but not too light, and it’s small enough to comfortably fit in my jeans pocket, though if you wear skinny jeans or similar pants, it will likely not be small enough to fit in a front pocket.  The camera begs to be used with a wrist strap for easy carrying, and that’s how I shot with the camera throughout the review period.

The Fujifilm X-70

The Fujifilm X70

The small 18.5mm f/2.8 lens protrudes around a quarter-inch beyond the flat body, and Fuji has managed to squeeze both a dial and an aperture ring on to this tiny lens.  The ring can be changed to a multitude of different functions, from ISO to film simulations to manual focus, while the slim aperture ring is operated by two tabs that protrude from either side. The aperture ring has solid clicks, but I found it a bit awkward to use due to the very small gripping area and the very close proximity to the rest of the camera body.  I’d still rather use an aperture ring like this than have it assigned to a thumb dial, but the implementation here is a bit lacking due to the concentration on keeping the camera small.

There are no filter threads on the lens, though there is a removable decorative ring that allows an accessory filter adapter to be threaded on to the outside of the lens which can then take screw in lens filters.  These outer threads also allow the X70 to use the wide and telephoto conversion lenses designed for the X100 series of cameras.

The top and rear controls will be familiar to Fuji shooters

The top and rear controls will be familiar to Fuji shooters

Operation and Controls

If you’ve used previous Fujifilm X-Series cameras, the general control of the X70 will be instantly familiar to you. The camera operates based on the classic control schemes of cameras from years past, with an aperture ring to control aperture, a dedicated shutter speed dial and a dedicated exposure compensation dial.  ISO selection can be assigned to a button and then adjusted with the rear toggle switch, or it can be assigned to the front control ring for instant access. The camera lacks a traditional PASM dial, rather using these dedicated dials to set autoexposure modes. Setting any parameter to ‘A’ will let the camera choose that parameter automatically, so setting the aperture ring to A while selecting a shutter speed operates shutter priority mode, while the opposite operates aperture priority. The typical ‘Program’ mode is entered by selecting A on both dials.  The X70, like the X-T10, has a full Auto switch as well, that sits below the shutter speed dial.

The front control ring can be set to adjust a multitude of options

The front control ring can be set to adjust a multitude of options

I have always loved this control scheme, and it continues to work well even on a camera of this size, aside from the very small nature of the aperture ring.  The top dials have nice positive clicks and feel great in use. As mentioned previously, the one control that is not present on the interchangeable Fuji cameras is the front control ring, which can be changed to operate many settings, such as ISO, film simulation, white balance and more.  The small button on the side of the camera brings up the menu above, to choose which parameter is used. It’s a useful thing to have and helps with the use of the camera.

The rear of the Fuji X70 looks much like the back of other Fuji cameras.

The rear of the Fuji X70 looks much like the back of other Fuji cameras.

The remainder of the rear buttons will also be familiar to Fuji shooters, as they retain the same basic layout of the other Fuji cameras.  There’s the four-way controller buttons, a rear toggle, which is pressable for magnification, and takes the place of the usual spinning wheel on the rear of other Fuji cameras. The Q button brings up the Quick menu, which allows for quick selection of a variety of shooting parameters.  There’s an additional programmable function button in the bottom right, and the four buttons on the four-way controller can also be programmed.  In all, the X70 offers a total of 7 programmable function buttons. Finally, the traditional Fuji focus selector switch to change between manual, single shot and continuous autofocus sits aside the lens for operation by your left hand. The excellent Fuji control scheme and customizable buttons allow the X70 to retain excellent functionality in a small package.

The X70's Quick Menu

The X70’s Quick Menu

There is one very big change with the X70, though, and that’s the addition of the first Fuji X touch screen. The rear screen of the X70 is both touch sensitive and flippable for shooting low to the ground or above you, and it can even flip completely forward for selfies or keeping an eye on framing while shooting video of yourself.

Fuji's 180 degree flippable rear LCD is also the first touch screen on a Fuji camera

Fuji’s 180 degree flippable rear LCD is also the first touch screen on a Fuji camera

When I heard Fuji had implemented a touch screen for the X70, I was both excited and a bit skeptical. It often takes a few iterations to really nail a touch interface, but Fuji did a very nice job with the X70’s touch screen.  They didn’t, however break any new ground with the functionality. The screen is a 3 inch panel with 1.04 million dots, and it looks very good.  It’s bright enough to use outdoors in bright sunlight, but it isn’t as good as using an EVF in these conditions.  Still, I found color and contrast to be excellent on the screen.

The camera allows for typical touch controls, with the ability to both select autofocus points and take photos directly by touch.  Unlike Panasonic and Olympus, though, you do not have the ability to set a focus point anywhere in the frame; you are limited to the same grid of 77 focus points that is found in the X-T1 and X-E2.  The function of tapping can be changed by tapping a box in the upper right corner.  Unfortunately, there aren’t really any other features that can be done while shooting with the touch screen, though image review functions are also available, such as swiping between photos and pinching to zoom.  In all, it’s a nice addition that adds to the functionality of the camera without hampering shooting.

Continue: Autofocus and Key Features

About the author

Jordan Steele

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Admiring Light; Photographer; Electrical Engineer and Dad

5 comments

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  1. Josh

    Sweet road hog photo. Keep up the good work. You going to photokina?

    1. Jordan Steele

      Thanks! Unfortunately, I can’t make it to Photokina this year. I really wanted to go again, as I had a great time in 2014, and I also love going to Europe any time I can. Unfortunately, airfare this year was absolutely insane, and I just couldn’t justify the cost to attend this year. I very much hope to go again in 2018, and I may still go to PhotoPlus in New York in October to get some early hands on with the new gear, though a month after announcement.

  2. Paul

    I took this X-70 with the 21mm converter lens and a Pana LX100 on a vacation road trip this summer. I really liked the combination and particularly, the X70 at both 28 and 21mm fov……I could cover 28mm FOV with the LX100, but the x70 gives a nice option for the wider angle 21mm equivalent on apsc sensor……..

  3. William La Via

    I bought it when it first came out because I like the FOV better than the 35eq of the X100 series that I never bonded with and the fact that it was only $200 more than the 18mm f/2 lens. I enjoyed shooting with it but got a little too hung up on some of the downsides you mention (as well as excited by the contemporaneous announcement of the Nikon DL 18-50) so I returned it after 3 weeks. Fast forward 8 months later, looking back at the images I made as well as the opportunities I miss because I don’t want to carry a larger camera, I just bought a used one (which improves the value proposition) and am very happy to have it back in my hands. Having the tilty-flippy touchscreen as well as all the physical dials and immediate access to ISO (through assignment to the control ring) makes it handle like the newer Fujis (with joystick) since you can choose focus point with that screen. I find I don’t miss the viewfinder much and enjoy shooting from different angles. It’s a great compliment to my X-T1 and I can easily carry both for travel in a tiny lightweight bag if I want to have a backup. Ultimately, it is much easier to shoot with than an iPhone because of the controls and flippy screen and is not much bigger. Oh, and you get APS-C files….

    It’s quirky but I like it. Wanted to see what the Nikon DL 18-50 looked like before committing but am not sure that will ever turn up after multiple delays. Better to shoot with something you like even though it might not have everything you want than wait for the mythical perfect solution is my life lesson on this one.

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