Fujifilm X70 Conclusion

The Fujifilm X70 is quite an interesting camera. It combines the 16.3-megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS II sensor you can find in an X-E2S with a fixed focal length, built-in Fujinon 18.5mm f/2.8 (28mm equivalent) lens. It's similar in spirit to the larger X100T which comes with a 35mm eq. f/2.0 lens, but the X70 comes with a price about $400 less.

Non-zoom cameras are not for everyone, but what the Fuji X70 lacks in versatility it more than makes up for in the image and optical quality department. Furthermore, it's durable, compact and easy to use.

28mm equivalent (18.5mm), f/2.8, 1.8s, ISO 200.
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Fuji X70 is a compact camera body with lots of controls

Weighing only 12.2 ounces (347 grams), the compact Fujifilm X70 proved to be an enjoyable camera to use. You can slip it away into a jacket pocket, but don't let its small size fool you, this camera is packed to the brim with physical controls that enthusiasts will love.

The dials located on the top deck of the camera all feel excellent and provide lots of control right at your fingertips. The camera feels like it was designed to be truly interacted with and not simply pointed at your subject. It looks nice too, with an old-school design that's characteristic of Fuji's X series cameras.

Its 3-inch touchscreen LCD display tilts 180 degrees, which is a first for a Fujifilm X-series camera. The tilting display becomes more important when you consider that the camera doesn't have a built-in viewfinder (although it does accept an optional VF-X21 viewfinder in its hotshoe).

For photographers who always want to be connected, the X70 has built-in Wi-Fi -- but not NFC -- that allows the camera to communicate with Fujifilm's companion application, Fujifilm Camera Remote. Set-up is simple, and the application offers a fair bit of remote control options. You have to reestablish the connection whenever you want to change the shooting mode (or anything else on the camera body itself, actually), which is rather frustrating.

Fujifilm X70 offers strong user experience with caveats

With a combination of a fixed-focal length lens, lots of manual controls but not-so-quick performance numbers, the Fuji X70 is definitely more complex and deliberate than a typical point-and-shoot camera. If you enjoy slowing down, thinking carefully about your shot and making the most of prime lenses, then you will likely enjoy using the Fuji X70. If you want everything to be fast and have the versatility of a zoom lens, this is likely not the camera for you. What one photographer considers deliberate -- say, "zooming with your feet" rather than with the lens, for instance -- another might fairly consider tedious. That is not to say that the X70 can't work well in a fully-automatic mode -- it can -- but it is not what this camera is all about.

Very good 28mm equivalent f/2.8 lens

The X70 utilizes a built-in 18.5mm f/2.8 wide-angle lens, which is equivalent to 28mm. Optical performance is generally excellent with good control of distortion. In fact, the camera doesn't apply any distortion control in-camera because there isn't much to correct for. Corner sharpness is decent when shooting wide open, but improves quite a bit when stopped down. Overall, this is a very good built-in lens. It is also very compact, extending only a short distance from the camera body. Around the lens is a control ring that we found to work quite well and provided good feedback.

28mm equivalent (18.5mm), f/5.6, 1/950s, ISO 400, flash fired.
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Inconsistent autofocus performance

Most of our review has been positive -- and most of what remains will be too -- but autofocus performance is a little underwhelming with the X70. It utilizes an Intelligent Hybrid AF system with 49 focus areas on a 7 x 7 grid. In addition to these areas, there are also 77 total areas on an 11 x 7 grid available when utilizing Zone AF.

Autofocus speeds did prove to be impressive in certain situations, but the system did not do well with continuous autofocus performance. Subject selection with full autofocus was iffy as well, but this is easily remedied by tapping on your subject using the touchscreen. Low light was the biggest obstacle that the X70's autofocus system had to clear and it often stumbled. In good light, we found the camera to be fast and reliable, but low light shooters will have to prepare themselves for a bit of hunting or getting comfortable utilizing manual focus.

An aspect of the X70 many seasoned photographers will appreciate is the ability to quickly switch to manual focus via a dial on the front. The camera offers up a real-time focus scale and focus peaking to help dial in your focus.

28mm equivalent (18.5mm), f/2.8, 1/50s, ISO 200
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X70's menus are clunky, touchscreen underutilized

While clunky menus are not unique to Fujifilm, it remains unfortunate that the touchscreen doesn't find more use when navigating through the camera's menus. You have to use the camera's directional buttons. Even when navigating the camera's "quick menu" you have to use these navigation buttons despite it being a situation practically tailor-made for a touch-friendly interface. The camera encourages you to slow down, be deliberate and focus on your photography, but nobody enjoys being slowed down by a menu system.

Film Simulation is one of the X70's best features

One of the most beloved features of Fujifilm cameras is Film Simulation, and that is here in full-force on the X70. The X70 comes with a number of film simulation options, including the new Classic Chrome option. They all work as intended and provide a lot of flexibility. The monochrome filters are especially nice.

28mm equivalent (18.5mm), f/8.0, 1/20s, ISO 200, Classic Chrome film simulation.
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Image sensor and image quality impress

With its 16.3-megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS II sensor, the Fujifilm X70 is capable of capturing high-quality images. Colors are mostly accurate and well-rendered both indoors and outside. When considering JPEG images with default settings, the camera delivered good detail and overall sharpness without many artifacts and only minimal noise suppression at its base native ISO of 200. Due in part to its distinct X-Trans sensor -- which is often tricky for third-party raw processors to adequately handle -- there is not a dramatic gain in sharpness with processed raw files versus in-camera JPEG files, but that is mostly a statement as to the impressiveness of the X70's in-camera processing rather than a detriment with its raw files.

At higher ISOs, the situation remains mostly positive. In fact, we found that its high ISO performance is very good for an APS-C sensor and chroma noise is very low. Even at ISO 1600, fine details are generally well-preserved in JPEG files. Until ISO 12800, images are generally quite clean, albeit with increasing softness as noise reduction efforts increase as the ISO rises. The X70 delivers high ISO image quality that is among the best for cameras with an APS-C sensor.

Metering performance is generally good, although we found a slight tendency for the camera to underexpose scenes when using the multi metering mode. Good thing there's an exposure compensation dial on top of the camera, right?

28mm equivalent (18.5mm), f/2.8, 20s, ISO 1600
This image has been modified. Click for original image.

Shallow buffer hurts X70's otherwise good performance

It seems odd to worry too much about continuous shooting performance and speeds when considering a camera that has a fixed focal length 28mm-equivalent lens -- as this isn't the camera that springs to mind if you want to capture sports or other action -- but surprisingly the X70 does okay in the performance department. Startup time and shutter lag are fairly quick, as is continuous shooting speed. Continuous raw capture speeds can reach over 8.5 frames per second, although buffer depth is quite weak at only 7 total frames. Shooting both JPEG and raw files slows the camera down to 7.8fps and reduces the buffer to 6 frames. Even when shooting only JPEG files, the buffer is just 10 shots.

Video is a weak point for the Fujifilm X70

The X70 does not deliver very good video performance, unfortunately. This has become something of a pattern with Fujifilm cameras. It can capture 1080p video at up to 60 frames per second, but autofocus performance and the video quality itself are not that great. Considering its generally weak video performance (and absence of 4K) and poorly-located video record button, it's evident that the X70 is very much a stills-focused camera that also records video.

Fujifilm X70 is a very good fixed focal length compact camera

28mm equivalent (18.5mm), f/2.8, 30s, ISO 1600
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Overall, despite the limitations discussed, the Fuji X70 has a lot of positive qualities. Film Simulation and excellent styling give the camera a modern retro feel that will make many photographers happy. Its JPEG image quality is fantastic, and its high ISO performance is impressive for its sensor size. The camera is impressively compact -- especially given it's APS-C-sized sensor -- but doesn't skimp on physical controls. It's an incredibly compact street shooter with excellent image quality. The Fujifilm X70 is certainly not for everyone nor every type of photographic subject, but for those who don't require a zoom lens or strong video capabilities, the X70 is sure to please and earns a Dave's Pick from us.

Pros & Cons

  • Sharp, bright, compact 28mm eq. f/2.8 lens
  • Excellent JPEG image quality
  • Pleasing colors with excellent hue accuracy
  • Very good high ISO performance, especially for its size
  • RAW files can be difficult to work with, but allow for lots of adjustments
  • Separate highlight and shadow tone controls
  • Quick autofocus in good light
  • Very low prefocused shutter lag
  • Fast 8+ fps full-resolution burst mode
  • Good battery life for its class
  • User-friendly physical controls
  • Very compact body with great aesthetics
  • Solid build quality
  • Tilting touchscreen works well
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • Film simulations modes
  • 16-megapixel resolution may not be enough for some
  • X-Trans sensor has difficulty rendering certain fine subject matter accurately
  • Mediocre dynamic range in JPEGs at default settings (but good DR from RAW files)
  • Inconsistent autofocus performance
  • Shallow buffer depth
  • Slow flash recycling times around 6.3s
  • Pre-press shutter release penalty
  • Auto and Incandescent white balance too warm in tungsten lighting
  • Poor video features and performance
  • Fixed focal-length lens can be limiting
  • No built-in viewfinder (but optional optical viewfinder is available)
  • Menus are clunky
  • Touchscreen is underutilized in menus

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