If you're the kind of photographer who likes off-the-wall, non-traditional photos, you may want an advanced digital camera that matches your photographic moods. This Fujifilm X70 review shows a quirky camera with a retro look that will remind you of film cameras.
Yet, there's nothing old school about the way this model performs. The X70 offers a host of manual controls and high-end features that will allow you to have as much control over the final image as you want, just like you'd expect from a modern digital camera with a price tag in excess of $500.
To be fair, some aspects of this camera's quirkiness are more annoying than charming, such as a poorly placed movie recording button that's almost impossible to use. And the Fujifilm X70's price tag means it's competing against entry-level DSLR cameras, which have a much cleaner interface -- call it a non-quirky design.
Still, once you've spent some time with it, you'll likely determine that the X70 is a fun camera to use. Unlike entry-level DSLRs, you can fit the X70 in a large pocket, which is a benefit. And, if you can fit this model in your budget, its image quality compares well against other models at this price point.
The Fujifilm X70 has an APS-C sized CMOS image sensor with 16.3-megapixels of resolution. This is an image sensor similar in size to what's found in entry-level DSLR cameras, such as the Canon EOS Rebel T6i
As you might expect with a camera in the X70's price range, the image quality with this model when shooting outdoors in adequate lighting is outstanding. Colors are accurate, and the camera is easy to operate in Program Auto mode. You can gain more control over the settings through Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, or Manual shooting modes to improve image quality in tricky lighting situations ... although entering those more advanced shooting modes requires you to twist a dial and a ring in combination, as there's no traditional mode dial with the X70.
Low light image quality is solid with this model, in part because of the size of the APS-C image sensor. Fujifilm also gave this model an ISO range between 100 and 51,200 (although the ISO settings above 6400 are extended settings). Noise in images is minimal all the way through ISO 6400, which is an impressive low light performance level.
The small flash is embedded in the corner of the Fujifilm X70, which is a common feature on inexpensive cameras, so it's a surprise to find it designed this way here. But Fujifilm allows you to change the flash exposure setting with the embedded flash, which gives you plenty of control and yields a good quality in flash photos. You also can add an external flash unit to the camera's hot shoe.
Fujifilm gave the X70 a high-quality lens, offering a maximum aperture of f/2.8. It's a prime lens though, meaning it has no optical zoom capability, which may disappoint some users looking for a more versatile camera. The X70 works best when shooting portraits or landscape photos, where you have plenty of flexibility to move as close to the subject as you need. With such a small focal length in the lens, Fujifilm didn't have to include an image stabilization feature with this model.
Although the X70's lens has a 28mm focal length setting, Fujifilm did give this camera a digital teleconverter that gives the lens the ability to shoot at either a 35mm or 50mm focal length. Although you lose some image sharpness when using the digital teleconverter settings, this feature almost acts like a tiny zoom lens. You can choose whether to activate the digital teleconverter through the camera's menus. However, you cannot shoot in RAW when using the digital teleconverter settings.
Compared to other cameras with APS-C sized image sensors, the Fujifilm X70 is among the smallest and lightest. It measures about 1.75 inches in thickness, which will allow you to carry it in a large pocket.
Despite being small, the camera has both a rubberized right hand grip area on the front and a rubberized thumbpad on the back of the Fujifilm X70, which are extremely beneficial when hand holding the camera. You could choose to attach a shoulder strap, which is included in the X70's box, but I didn't feel the need to use the strap with this little camera.
One feature Fujifilm didn't include with this camera is a viewfinder. For a camera that looks a lot like a retro film camera, I just expected to find a viewfinder. You can purchase one at an extra cost and attach it through the X70's hot shoe.
If you choose not to make that extra purchase, you'll have to use the X70's LCD screen to frame all of your photos. Fortunately, Fujifilm didn't skimp in this area, giving the X70 one of the highest quality LCD screens you'll find on a digital camera. It has more than 1 million pixels of resolution, it offers touch control capabilities, and it can swivel up to 180 degrees, allowing you to shoot selfies or other odd angle photos. It has 100% coverage of the scene too.
Having a touch screen is a great feature on a digital camera, as it helps those who are used to operating smartphones the ability to run the camera in a similar manner. And because some of the control buttons on the back of the Fujifilm X70 are a little small and set too tightly to the camera body, having a touch screen means you can choose to use these buttons less.
Having buttons that are poorly designed or too small is a common problem with the X70, which is one of its frustrating quirks. The movie recording button on the top panel of the camera has an especially awful design. It's too small and too tightly set to the camera body to be used properly. During my tests, I often had to attempt to press the button several times to start or stop movie recordings, causing the camera to jiggle and missing key moments. I finally had to resort to pressing the button with the end of a key to make it work more accurately. This button is almost unusable.
Another problem: If you choose to carry the Fujifilm X70 in a pocket, make sure you check the EV dial and the shutter speed dial before shooting the next time. It's easy to bump these dials out of position while just grabbing and carrying the camera, resulting in images that have incorrect settings before you realize it. This happened to us on a couple of occasions, including when shooting a couple of our sample photos, as noted on the next page.
The aperture and focus rings on the lens are far too thin to be used comfortably, which complicates using the manual focus function. The aperture ring has handles that help you turn it though.
As mentioned earlier, the X70 has no mode dial, which means you may find it a little confusing to enter certain shooting modes until you're used to how the camera works. And the camera has a toggle switch on the front to control the focus mode that you may forget about, leaving you confused as to why you're in a focus mode you don't want to use.
Still, most of these design quirks can be fixed by either using the camera for a while to gain a feel for exactly how it works or by taking advantage of the X70's customization features to make the camera work better for you. For example, you have eight buttons on the camera to which you can assign functions or settings, allowing you to personalize the buttons and make the X70 work better for you. (I'd recommend starting by reassigning the movie recording to another button on the camera that's larger and better positioned.)
Performance speeds are fast for the Fujifilm X70, which, again, is what you'd expect to find in this price range. Most of the time, the camera's autofocus works quickly at a fraction of a second, minimizing the chances of missing a photo because of shutter lag. However, when shooting indoors, you may find times where the X70 struggles to dial in the autofocus for the scene properly, requiring half a second or more. These delays with the autofocus are sporadic.
The camera's battery life is about 240 to 260 shots per charge under real world conditions. And the battery will drain more quickly whenever you're using the Fujifilm X70's Wi-Fi feature. The Wi-Fi with this camera is easy to use after you download an app from Fujifilm.
Finally, one interesting aspect of this camera is its ability to operate nearly silently. The X70's shutter can be silenced. You can activate a command that mutes all of the camera's other sounds while also turning off the flash and AF assist lamp, which is great in photography situations where any bright light or sound could be distracting.
Bottom line - The Fujifilm X70 fixed lens camera creates great looking photographs in a model with plenty of advanced features. It is small enough to fit in a large pocket, making it easier to carry this camera around than, say, an entry-level DSLR, even though the image quality of both types of cameras is similar. However, the X70 has no optical zoom lens, which will disappoint some photographers. One of the best things I can say about the Fujifilm X70 is that nearly every time I took it out for a set of test photos, I found another interesting feature or setting to try. Part of the reason that occurred is because the X70's design is a little tough to figure out completely until you've used it for a while. But it also speaks to the large number of cool features and settings this camera has. And the more time you spend with the X70, the more natural its interface and physical design will feel to you. The X70 is a high priced model, carrying a starting price of about $700, which means you'll want to be certain you can live with this camera's limitations and quirks before you drop that kind of money on the camera. The X70 is definitely an interesting camera that has enough advanced features and strong performance levels that it'll work well for many types of photographers ... especially those who appreciates quirks.