The sensor on the Fuji X70 is the same X-Trans 2 sensor found in all the second generation Fuji cameras. Its quantities are known: it provides very good quality for an APS-C sensor, with outstanding color and very good dynamic range. Since image quality is unchanged from a sensor perspective, that section will utilize portions of previous Fuji reviews.
The integrated lens is a 18.5mm f/2.8 wide angle lens that gives a field of view equivalent to a 28mm lens on a full-frame camera. The lens is very small, but Fuji made sure to put in some very nice optics. Wide open at f/2.8, the center is quite sharp, though there is some softening towards the edges of the frame. Stopping down to f/5.6 or f/8 yields very sharp images all the way to the corners. In all, it is a very good optic from a lens resolution standpoint.
The lens also produces images with very nice color and contrast, typical of other Fujinon lenses. There is plenty of punch for vibrant landscapes or impactful street shots without losing that subtle tonality that is representative of Fuji glass.
While not a fast lens, the X70’s f/2.8 aperture is capable of producing a fair amount of background blur for compositions with a subject that is somewhat close-up, and I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the bokeh in most situations. The X70’s bokeh is smooth when focused close up, with just a subtle bit of nervousness just outside of the area of sharpness. The lens maintains good bokeh even at smaller apertures, as can be seen in the image a bit further down the page. However, when focused a bit further away at f/2.8, especially with a detailed background, the bokeh can become quite nervous. Overall, I think Fuji did a pretty good job in that regard considering the design of the lens. The lens also controls both lateral and longitudinal chromatic aberration very well. In all, it’s a quality optic.
Color and Dynamic Range
While the X70’s sensor is nothing new, it still definitely holds its own with regards to color response and dynamic range. Both are still excellent, even when comparing them to cameras with newer APS-C sensors. The 16 megapixel sensor in the Fuji X70 has a very wide dynamic range, allowing you to capture plenty of detail in the highlights and shadows even in high contrast situations. It’s rare that a situation arises that will truly exceed the dynamic range of the sensor.
Likewise, Fuji has always excelled at color, with accurate white balance and excellent color response. RAW files tend to be muted upon import, but take adjustment extremely well. JPEG files have among the best color of any JPEG engine in the business. Lightroom 6 does a good job with color on the Fuji files, with support for the film simulations built into the program, making it easier to match the color response from the JPEG files. Adobe has recently improved the color rendering of Fuji files, preventing some color artifacts at certain transition points.
Unfortunately, Adobe still is subject to interpreting the X70’s files with a watercolor look in certain situations. There is word that Adobe is working directly with Fuji to eliminate this artifact, which would be nice. Photo Ninja and Capture One Pro can both do a bit better job with rendering detail on X-Trans conversions, as the watercolor effect is essentially absent with that converter.
Noise and Detail
The X70 has very good noise control, with JPEG images showing very low noise up to ISO 3200 and even somewhat usable images up to ISO 25,600. The X70 includes support for ISO 51,200, but in my opinion: don’t bother. ISO 51,200 is frankly just a checkmark on the spec sheet, as it’s definitely a step too far.. Files at that ISO show visible banding and blotchy noise throughout. It’s also worth noting that Fuji still separates the expanded ISOs from the regular ISOs by making anything outside ISO 200-6400 JPEG only. I’m not sure why they simply can’t enable RAW support for these ISOs. Sure, you can achieve what the camera would be doing by underexposing at ISO 6400 and bringing the exposure up in your RAW converter, but I really shouldn’t have to make that adjustment just to keep shooting in RAW. They are the only maker that does that in 2015.
RAW files show a little more noise than the JPEGs but also much more detail. Noise remains quite low up to ISO 1600 and very usable at ISO 3200 and 6400. I rarely worry about the ISO I’m shooting with any of these cameras, as quality shots can be had at any of the native ISOs. It is worth noting that like all the X-Trans cameras, the X70 does overstate ISO by about 1/3 to 1/2 stop.
As far as detail is concerned, the camera is capable of resolving plenty of detail. The only times detail suffers if you are using a RAW converter like Lightroom in the rare situations that cause the watercolor effect to show up. Using a different converter should solve the issue here. Overall, however, this is really where newer sensors are starting to make the X-Trans 2 sensor look dated. It would be nice to have the newer 24 megapixel sensor found on the X-Pro 2 and X-T2 in this camera. Resolution certainly isn’t everything, and 16MP is plenty for most people’s use, but I’d still like the newer sensor.
One area where holding the status quo is fine is in the JPEG rendition. Fuji still has some of the best JPEGs in the industry. X70 JPEG output is low in artifacts and has good detail and excellent dynamic range, especially when using more gentle highlight and shadow settings.
Fuji has unique ‘film simulations’ that seek to emulate some of their more popular films, such as Velvia, Provia, Astia and so on. I’ve become a very big fan of the Classic Chrome simulation, especially when shooting portraits or any candid people shots. It’s not the best for landscape use, but that’s where Provia, Astia and Velvia simulations work best. There are also black and white color filter simulations and negative film simulations as well.
Fuji is still the only camera company where I will sometimes prefer a JPEG I’ve made in camera to a processed RAW image, and that’s a nice thing to fall back on. While I still prefer the flexibility and added benefits of shooting RAW, if you are a JPEG shooter, the X70, as well as any other Fuji camera, should be on your short list.
As I noted at the beginning of the review, I am not a videographer and don’t feel fully qualified to discuss the ins and outs of video shooting and video quality. However, I did test the video mode, and it’s nice to see Fuji making some strides over the years, though strict videographers will still probably want to look elsewhere for a primary camera. The X70 is capable of shooting in 1080p or 720p at 24,30 and 60 fps.
Quality of the video itself is merely acceptable. In good light, I find it looks just fine, and rolling shutter is actually quite minimal. However, at higher ISOs, there are quite a lot of artifacts in the final video, and detail and fidelity suffer. With one focal length, it’s not going to be a do-it-all video camera, but it will do just fine for casual video use.