Fujifilm certainly isn't a stranger to advanced compacts, but options like the X100T come with a pretty high-end price tag. So when the company introduced the $700 X70, I was intrigued, to say the least. The X70 includes the same X-Trans sensor that dominates their mirrorless line as well as in the X100T. While a few features are missing, including image stabilization and a viewfinder, the X70 offers similar image quality, without a price tag that's as much as a high-end DSLR.
Do those missing features cripple the camera? After spending some time with a Fujifilm X70 review copy, I can say absolutely not. In fact, I prefer the X70 over several similarly priced compacts—and even some that are more expensive. Here's why.
Fujifilm X70: Body & Design
Right out of the box, I could tell the X70 is a solidly-built camera. The body is sleek and metallic, certainly not something that feels cheap in the hands. The sturdy build makes it slightly heavier, but not really anything that's going to add much weight to your bag at just 12 ounces. With the fixed pancake lens on the front, the entire camera measures just 1.75 inches deep, with a small textured hand grip.
While the X70 is a compact, the controls are similar to a mirrorless camera. There's both an aperture ring and second control ring around the lens, despite the small size. A dedicated shutter speed dial rests at the top, with an auto mode toggle. Use the toggle for a full auto, or choose shutter or aperture priority by selecting the A on one of the dials. Move off A on both dials, and you're in full manual. Exposure compensation is also easily accessible with a dedicated dial.
Besides the shutter and EV dials, the top of the camera also houses an on/off toggle around the shutter release, a drive mode shortcut and a record button (which is a bit too hard to push, resulting in some movies that are longer than intended). At the front of the camera, next to the lens with two control rings, there's a flip switch for selecting single, continuous or manual focus.
The back of the camera is dominated by a tilting LCD screen that's also touch sensitive. The screen uses a hinge-style system, yet it can still flip far enough forward to see the screen from in front of the camera. The clarity on the screen is excellent, and while the lack of a viewfinder is a bit disappointing, the screen is nice to use.
The X70 has not just one or two but eight function buttons that can be custom set, with the menu arrows containing half of those shortcuts. The ability to customize that many controls is nice to have, though it extends the learning curve a bit when you can't remember what is saved where. There is no ISO dial like for shutter speed and EV, but I set ISO to one function button. (It is a bit annoying to have to click through to select your ISO option—perhaps I was a bit spoiled with the amount of physical controls that are there). Oh, and since all of the shutter speeds couldn't fit on the dial, there's a small toggle about where the right thumb rests that selects from a smaller subset of options.
With the amount of physical controls, there aren't too many reasons to head into the menu, but there are a few. There's a quick menu containing even more settings within a few clicks, like file size and film simulation. The full menu is easy enough to navigate and is packed with quite a few options, including adjusting highlight and shadow tones, noise reduction and manual focus assist features.
The design of the X70 is excellent and easy to customize. I only found two small quirks—One, that pesky record button being a bit too hard to push. And two, the fact that once the camera goes to sleep, you have to use the on/off switch and restart it instead of pressing a button to wake it up.
Fujifilm X70: User Experience & Performance
The Fujifilm X70 is designed as an enthusiast's camera and has a feature set to match that. There's just one auto mode with no scene modes and a full set of manual modes. The panorama mode wasn't neglected though (you can find it inside the drive mode shortcut). Like other Fujifilm cameras, the X70 also includes a nice set of film simulation colors, including a wide range of black and white presets.
For a compact camera, the X70 has an impressive feature set. For manually focusing, there's both a focus peaking and split image assist option. Bracketing shots can be done for exposure, ISO, film simulations, white balance and dynamic range.
Speed-wise, the X70 offers a respectable 8 fps burst. JPEG images will slow after 10 shots, but will continue using a 3 fps burst without stopping. For RAW, the buffer sits at seven shots, then there was about a 1.5 second pause in between shots continuing from that first initial burst.
Single shots are in line speed-wise as well. Shots with autofocus on were about half a second apart, where manually focuses shots were about .3 seconds apart. The start-up is also quick, in less than two seconds, which is good considering the model I had wouldn't wake up without a restart.
Overall, the speed on the X70 was right in line with my expectations. Autofocus is pretty quick and the burst speed is decent as well. The range of advanced features and settings is pretty impressive, and I'm left feeling like there are still features I haven't explored yet.
Fujifilm X70: Image Quality
The Fujifilm X70 packs in a lot of the same imaging technology as the brand's more expensive cameras—which means the X70 snaps some pretty impressive images. I've long been a fan of Fujifilm's X-Trans sensors, largely because of the beautiful colors and impressive level of detail. The X70 maintains that, with solid color reproduction and an equally excellent range of film presets.
Initially, I saw the fixed lens as a negative, but here's the thing—just like prime lenses are sharper on a DSLR, the X70 had a level of sharpness that I'm not sure is possible with a zoom lens. Lines are crisp, and close lines are more distinct than other advanced compacts that we've tested. While the lack of the versatility of a zoom is still something to consider, the trade-off is an enhanced level of sharpness.
Noise reduction is also solid, with some grain creeping in at ISO 800, but acceptable quality at ISO 3200 and even 6400. That translates into solid low light performance as well.
|ISO 200 (300 pixel crop)||ISO 400||ISO 800||ISO 1600|
|ISO 3200||ISO 6400||ISO 12800|
The biggest difference between the X70 and models like the X100T, at least in terms of image quality, is the lack of image stabilization. With the wide-angle lens and solid noise reduction, I didn't actually notice that the stabilization was missing at first, but that might be a big factor for some shooters.
For video, the picture quality is just as solid as the still images. Autofocus is available while recording (the front focus switch works for both stills and videos, so switch to continuous if you would like the focus to adjust after the recording starts.) But, the autofocus is a bit distracting—there's an audible clicking noise that's picked up in the video, and the contrast detection style autofocus means there is some searching before the focal point is actually locked.
Fujifilm X70 Review: Sample Images
Fujifilm X70 Review: Conclusion
If I was in the market for an advanced compact, the Fujifilm X70 would be at the top of my list. While I was initially concerned about the lack of a zoom, the fixed lens leads to sharper shots, and that, combined with the color and detail from the X-Trans sensor, translates into beautiful images. I would have a hard time paying more for an advanced compact than I did for my DSLR body, and the X70 sits at a price that's more palatable than many other advanced compacts.
While the advanced compact category is pretty crowded, the X70 immediately stands out with the APS-C sensor where most offer a 1” or 1.5” sensor. Besides the large sensor, the X70 actually still sits at a more affordable price point. The Sony RX100 IV may be faster with zoom, a viewfinder and stabilization, but it also costs $250 more and has a much smaller sensor. While the X70 doesn't have a true zoom, you do have a bit more freedom to crop than with a 1” sensor, which helps make up for that lack of zoom a bit.
The biggest competition is going to be Fujifilm itself—the older X100T offers that viewfinder and stabilization that the X70 is lacking, but will run you about $1,200.
The Fujfilm X70 is an excellent compact camera. While that missing zoom may cause many to overlook the camera, the fixed lens and APS-C sensor produces very sharp, beautifully detailed images. There's no viewfinder or image stabilization and a few of the buttons are a bit finicky, but the X70 is a well rounded camera that travels well, shoots well and is priced well.