Fujifilm X70 Field Test

A stylish and portable camera that captures great images

by Jeremy Gray | Posted 04/07/2016

Fujifilm X70 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
28mm equivalent (18.5mm), f/2.8, 30s, ISO 1600
This image has been modified. Click for original image.

Introduction

Featuring a 16.3-megapixel APS-C X-Trans II CMOS sensor and a 28mm-eq. prime lens, the small Fujifilm X70 combines retro-inspired styling with the modern features you expect to find in an X-series Fujifilm camera.

Key Features

  • 16.3-megapixel APS-C X-Trans II CMOS sensor
  • Fujinon 18.5mm (28mm eq.) f/2.8 fixed prime lens
  • Compact camera body
  • Intelligent Hybrid AF
  • 8.6fps continuous RAW image capture
  • Native ISO range of 200-6400 (expandable to 100; 25,600; and 51,200)
  • 1080p video at up to 60fps
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
Fujifilm X70 Review: Field Test -- Product Image Front

A small, retro-inspired body with numerous controls

Considering its APS-C sensor, the Fuji X70 is a surprisingly small camera, weighing in at only 12.2 oz. (347g) and with dimensions of 4.4 x 2.5 x 1.7 inches (113 x 64 x 44mm). While the X70 is considered to be a mid-sized camera, it easily fits into a jacket pocket or the pocket of a loose pair of pants. Yet, despite its compact design, it doesn't skimp on controls.

Like other Fuji X-series cameras, the X70 doesn't use a traditional PASM mode dial, but instead a combination of controls. Two very important dials are on the top deck of the camera, the shutter speed dial and the exposure compensation dial. While the exposure compensation dial is self-explanatory, the shutter speed dial is a multi-purpose dial. By rotating the shutter speed dial to 'A' and the lens' aperture ring to a specific aperture value, you will put the X70 into aperture priority mode. Do the reverse for shutter priority mode: aperture ring to "A" and manually select a shutter speed with its dial. In addition to selecting the shutter speed by rotating the dedicated dial, you can also use the "T" setting to select a shutter speed not marked on the dial, such as a shutter speeds longer than 1 second or speeds in-between those marked on the dial. Finally, by manually selecting both shutter speed and aperture, you put the camera into full manual exposure mode. To use the camera with program exposure, you simply set both the shutter speed and aperture dials to 'A.' For a fully automatic shooting mode, you can also flip a switch to the right of the shutter speed dial to 'Auto.'

Fujifilm X70 Review: Field Test -- Product Image Back

Unlike the earlier X30, the X70 forgoes a viewfinder and relies solely on its 3-inch tilting LCD touchscreen display. This display is plenty sharp with 1,036,800 dots. It is quite reflective, I found, but bright enough to view in moderately sunny conditions. To help deal with glare, and also for general convenience out in the field, the display tilts up to 180 degrees. It doesn't swivel, however. Despite being a touch display, there are many things that you have to use buttons for, including navigating the system menu.

In addition to the lack of a built-in viewfinder, there are two aspects of the X70's physical design that I didn't care for. Firstly, rather than a command dial on the back of the camera, the X70 has a command switch. You can push it either right or left, but you cannot quickly cycle through options like you can with a dial. Secondly, there is no way to attach the lens cap to the camera body. Naturally, this is something that many photographers are used to, but the X70 seems like an excellent candidate for having a tethering system for its lens cap because it is a camera that I'm more likely to remove from my pocket to grab a quick image.

Fujifilm X70 Review: Field Test -- Product Image Back

With that said, the camera body is excellent overall. It is impressive how many controls are on this small camera body without sacrificing usability and comfort. The small front grip, while not adding much size to the camera, does make it much easier to grip. The buttons on the rear are organized in a straightforward manner and are big enough for easy operation.

APS-C X-Trans II CMOS sensor delivers high-quality results

The 16.3-megapixel APS-C CMOS X-Trans II sensor found in the X70 produces good quality images, particularly at lower ISO settings. JPEG images at default settings are sharp and detailed. Even fine details are rendered well in JPEG files and not overly sharpened or littered with artifacts. RAW images are easy to work with and provide plenty of latitude for making exposure changes.

Fujifilm X70 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image

28mm equivalent (18.5mm), f/8.0, 1/170s, ISO 200.
Click for full-size image.

By utilizing an X-Trans design, the X70 is able to forgo having an anti-aliasing sensor, which is supposed to provide a sharper, more detailed image. The X70's sensor has a unique 6x6 primary color filter pattern, which has a degree of randomness that reduces moiré and false color, which are issues that typically need to be addressed with an AA filter.

Fujifilm X70 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image

28mm equivalent (18.5mm), f/2.8, 1.8s, ISO 200.
This image has been modified. Click for original image.

A distinct feature of Fujifilm cameras is their Film Simulation mode. By utilizing Film Simulations, you are able to quickly customize the look of your images. While 'Standard' provides good JPEG files with acceptable sharpness, contrast, and color, users will want to experiment with the different Film Simulation options to ensure that they get the best possible images straight from the camera.

Fixed focal length lens is compact, but not very versatile

The X70 uses a fixed focal length lens like its X100T big brother though offers a slightly wider angle of view. The X70's Fujinon 28mm equivalent f/2.8 lens has seven elements in five groups, utilizes a Fujinon aspherical element, has two aspherical glass molded elements, and includes Super EBC coating.

Fujifilm X70 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image

28mm equivalent (18.5mm), f/2.8, 1/1250s, ISO 200.
Click for full-size image.

The physical size of the lens is very small, and it does not change size when powering the camera on or focusing. The lens is not a macro lens, but it can close focus to 3.9 in. (10 cm). On the lens' short barrel there are two rings, an aperture ring and a focus ring. The aperture ring is easily rotated using one of two pieces that protrude from the lens barrel. While I like the aperture control ring, the focusing ring was something of a disappointment. It lacks the ability to readily make precise changes in focus, and this limits the X70 as a manual focus camera.

Fujifilm X70 Digital Teleconverter Comparison 100% Center Crops from JPEG files (Click images for full-size files).
Panasonic FZ300 Field Test -- 25mm Aperture Test Image Panasonic FZ300 Field Test -- 25mm Aperture Test Image Panasonic FZ300 Field Test -- 25mm Aperture Test Image
28mm
35mm
50mm

If you want to extend the X70's fixed focal length of 28mm, you can utilize a digital teleconverter feature to capture images with a 35mm equivalent field of view of either a 35mm or 50mm lens. This feature is available when capturing JPEG files only, however, which is a bit disappointing but makes sense considering how it works. The X70 crops a full-size image to the selected equivalent focal length field of view and then resamples the file such that you have a normal 4986 x 3264-pixel image as you would at 28mm. The digital teleconverter feature is convenient and produces solid results, however, as you'll see in the comparison above, there is a noticeable drop in image quality.

Fun-to-use camera with a few frustrating aspects

When using the X70 in the field, it is a very capable and enjoyable camera but I did encounter a few frustrating issues.

Fujifilm X70 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
28mm equivalent (18.5mm), f/2.8, 1/50s, ISO 200
Click for full-size image.

I'll get the frustrations out of the way first. As I mentioned earlier, the command "dial" on the rear of the camera is more of a switch than a dial and is not good for making quick adjustments. It is time-consuming to cycle through options in the Quick Menu or through camera settings using this command switch. Secondly, the touchscreen, which does work quite well, cannot be used for many things. You can utilize the display for selecting autofocus points and you can set it to tap to shoot, but you cannot use it to navigate menus or the Quick Menu, which is disappointing. Finally, the lack of a viewfinder is unfortunate, but I can understand its absence.

Although a more versatile touchscreen or a better command dial would make the 'Q' menu much faster, this menu is an excellent feature overall on the X70. After pressing the 'Q' button on the back of the camera, you can access a custom settings bank, ISO, dynamic range, white balance, noise reduction, and a number of other options.

Fujifilm X70 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
28mm equivalent (18.5mm), f/2.8, 30s, ISO 1600.
Click for full-size image.

One of my favorite features of Fujifilm cameras and the X70 in particular is Film Simulation. You can select from Provia (standard), Velvia (vivid), Astia (soft), Classic Chrome, ProNeg Hi, ProNeg Standard, and a variety of monochrome options. Personally, I really like the look of Velvia film simulation because of its vivid colors and higher contrast, but the important point is that there's something for everyone here. The different monochrome options are excellent as well, and being able to select from different filters allowed me to find the right monochrome option for the particular scene.

Fujifilm X70 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
28mm equivalent (18.5mm), f/8.0, 1/20s, ISO 200, Classic Chrome film simulation.
Click for full-size image.

For creative filters, you can press the 'Drive' button on the top deck of the camera and then select the 'Advanced Filter' option. Filters include a wide variety of different effects, such as Toy Camera, Miniature, and an array of selective color options. Also in the 'Drive' menu is the Motion Panorama option, which is a convenient and easy-to-use sweep-panorama mode, however, the vertical resolution of the resulting panorama image is a bit limited at just 1,440 pixels high.

While exposure metering performance was generally good during my time with the X70, I did find that it had a slight tendency to underexpose images when using the multi metering mode. Fortunately, with an exposure compensation dial right on the top deck of the camera, this is easy to address. Average and spot metering is also available, and I found these to provide more expected results. White balance metering works fine with auto white balance and provided consistently good results.

Autofocus struggles in low light and with moving subjects

With Intelligent Hybrid autofocus, the X70 generally provides quick and accurate autofocus performance, although I found that it struggles in low light quite a bit. It also didn't prove to be very consistent in selecting the appropriate subject in my experience.

Fujifilm X70 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
28mm equivalent (18.5mm), f/2.8, 1/40s, ISO 1600
This image has been modified. Click for original image.

Dealing with the inconsistency in subject selection is not difficult, however, as you can use the touchscreen to select an autofocus point. The difficultly the X70 has with focusing in low light is not easily addressed, however.

When autofocus isn't up to the task or you want to use manual focus, you can switch into manual focus mode by rotating the focus mode switch on the front of the camera to 'M'. The focus ring on the lens feels too loose, however, to make precise adjustments. On the display there is a real-time focus scale which provides some feedback and there are also zoom and focus peaking features available. Overall, I came away a bit disappointed with manual focusing on the X70.

The same way you switch the lens from auto to manual focus, you can change the camera from single to continuous autofocus. Continuous autofocus performs fairly well, but not great. It is slow to deal with fast-moving subjects and can hunt for focus even when a subject is moving slowly.

Fujifilm X70 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
28mm equivalent (18.5mm), f/3.6, 1/280s, ISO 200.
Click for full-size image.

In total, the X70 has 77 focus areas on an 11 x 7 grid, although only 49 (7 x 7 grid) can be selected using regular autofocus modes. To utilize the full amount of areas, you must be in Zone AF or Wide/Tracking AF. I liked that the autofocus points cover a large portion of the image frame.

Overall, the autofocus performance is okay and mostly dependable in good light, but it struggles in lower light and with moving subjects. This isn't a camera designed for capturing fast-action or other quick-moving subjects.

Good burst shooting speed held back by small buffer

The X70 is pretty quick, although its buffer depth is lacking. You can capture RAW frames at up to 8.6fps for seven frames, JPEG files at 8.5fps for ten frames, and RAW+JPEG at 7.8fps for six frames. These speeds are impressive, but you won't be able to capture prolonged bursts regardless of your file quality. Fortunately, the buffer does clear fairly quickly, managing to clear a burst of RAW+JPEG in under ten seconds and a RAW burst in around five seconds. Overall, the X70 felt snappy in use in this regard. The camera starts up quickly and has good shot-cycling times. Menus are quick and I didn't experience any hiccups when changing settings or using creative effects.

Impressive high ISO performance

When shooting JPEG files, the X70 has an ISO range of 100-51,200. This is in contrast to the RAW ISO range of just 200-6,400. JPEG files with default noise reduction are impressive up through ISO 1600. At 3200, noise starts to become a bit more obvious when viewing files at less than 100%, but I still found the files to be perfectly usable. Even ISO 6400 looks decent when viewing the file at 100%, although noise is much more evident. The extended ISO options of 12,800, 25,600, and 51,200 are practically unusable, especially when viewing the files at large resolutions.

Fujifilm X70 Noise Comparison
100% crops from RAW images (click images for full-size files). RAW files processed in Adobe Camera Raw, cropped, and exported as JPEGs in Photoshop with default sharpening and noise reduction "disabled". (Be aware that ACR still applies chroma noise reduction to RAW files from Fuji X-Trans cameras when its Color NR sliders are set to zero.)
Fujifilm X70 Review: Field Test -- Noise Test Image
ISO 200 Full Scene
Fujifilm X70 Review: Field Test -- Noise Test Image Fujifilm X70 Review: Field Test -- Noise Test Image
ISO 200
ISO 400
Fujifilm X70 Review: Field Test -- Noise Test Image Fujifilm X70 Review: Field Test -- Noise Test Image
ISO 800
ISO 1600
Fujifilm X70 Review: Field Test -- Noise Test Image Fujifilm X70 Review: Field Test -- Noise Test Image
ISO 3200
ISO 6400

RAW files start to get noticeably noisy around ISO 1600, but the noise is mostly consistent and easy to address during post-processing. At ISO 3200, noise levels increase quite a bit but aren't unmanageable. At ISO 6400, it will become a challenge to reduce the noise to low enough levels to make a good-looking large print of the file. With that said, I think that the high performance of the X70 is really impressive overall.

The strength of noise reduction can be adjusted for JPEG files from -2 through +2, with the default being +/-0. The default strikes a great balance, in my opinion, because it does a good job of reducing noise without removing the fine detail from an image. I often like to decrease the noise reduction in-camera, but the X70 is an exception because its default setting was my preference.

Fujifilm X70 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
28mm equivalent (18.5mm), f/2.8, 20s, ISO 1600
This image has been modified. Click for original image.

The X70 has a small built-in flash that has a range at ISO 1600 of 1 foot to 25.9 feet (0.3 to 7.9 meters). As is often the case with a built-in flash, it gets the job done but if you want more flattering and more powerful flash performance you will need to make use of the camera's hot shoe and use an external flash unit.

Fujifilm X70 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
28mm equivalent (18.5mm), f/5.6, 1/950s, ISO 400, flash fired.
This image has been cropped. Click for original image.

Video performance is lacking

Following in the footsteps of previous Fujifilm cameras, the X70 is not much of a video performer. It doesn't offer many features nor does it deliver strong video performance. What the X70 does offer is the ability to capture 1080p video at up to 60fps.

Fujifilm X70 1080p Video Sample #1: 1920 x 1080, 60 frames-per-second
Download Original (53.8 MB .MOV File)

First things first, the video record button is small and poorly-located. Starting and stopping video recording can be tricky. The video record button is located in front of the shutter release and is small and recessed. The button travels a short distance so it is difficult to know when the button has actually been pressed without looking at the screen to see if a video has started or stopped recording. There were many occasions when I had to repeatedly press the button to stop a recording.

Video image quality is okay, though the picture still suffers from strange moiré and aliasing issues we've observed on other Fuji X-Trans-based cameras. For example, in the first sample video above, note the magenta and green moiré visible on the water and trees, as well as the shimmering aliasing artifacts.

Following up on the underwhelming continuous autofocus performance when recording still images, continuous AF when recording video is also slow. It is worth noting that you have to set the camera to continuously focus using the AF switch on the front of the camera as it doesn't automatically switch to continuous autofocus when recording video.

Fujifilm X70 1080p Video Sample #2: 1920 x 1080, 60 frames-per-second
Download Original (43.9 MB .MOV File)

Overall, video performance is not a strong suit of the X70. It is capable of recording decent-quality 1080p video, but without 4K video recording or a stronger set of features, it is clear that this is very much a stills-focused camera.

Wi-Fi connectivity proves useful, but not ground-breaking

The X70 has built-in Wi-Fi, but not NFC, and works well its companion Fujifilm Camera Remote application. The application is easy to set up on iOS devices and requires only a few steps to establish a connection.

Fujifilm Camera Remote application screenshots
Fujifilm X70 Review: Field Test -- Wireless App Screenshot Fujifilm X70 Review: Field Test -- Wireless App Screenshot

Once connected, the app offers a decent amount of control over the camera. Changing anything on the camera body itself is not reflected in the application, so you have to change modes and then re-establish the connection if you want to change shooting mode. You do have access to a variety of settings though, including ISO, film simulation, white balance, flash mode, and self-timer. You can also control different basic functions depending on the shooting mode of the camera when the connection is established. There is a slight delay when trying to focus the camera, so the remote application is best-suited for still life photography.

Fujifilm X70 Field Test Summary

Great image quality and good ergonomics make this camera fun to use

What I like:

  • Ergonomics. The X70 feels great to use and provides the user with a lot of physical control considering its relatively compact size
  • 16.3-megapixel APS-C X-Trans II CMOS sensor captures great images
  • Impressive high ISO performance
  • Fast burst shooting capabilities
  • Fun to use

What I dislike:

  • The lack of viewfinder is disappointing
  • Autofocus performance can be inconsistent, particularly in low light
  • Video features and performance are underwhelming
Fujifilm X70 Review: Field Test -- Gallery Image
28mm equivalent (18.5mm), f/11, 1s, ISO 200
Click for full-size image.

Although the X70 has a few shortcomings and won't mightily impress with its features list or video performance, it does two particularly important things very well. It combines good image quality with a small form factor and an impressive lens. It provided me with ample physical controls and dials, allowing me to take full control of my photography while also feeling intimately connected to the process.

For those of you who have a used a Fujifilm camera, you'll know exactly what I mean when I say that the X70 is simply fun to use. It's an enjoyable camera to have out in the field. While its imaging performance is impressive, what stood out to me during my time with the X70 is not any particular specification or feature, it was the overall experience.

 



Enter this month to win:

1 $300 Adorama Gift Certificate

2 $200 Adorama Gift Certificate

3 $100 Adorama Gift Certificate