Fujifilm x70 Review: One Year Later

I don’t write camera reviews. I try to avoid reading them. I resist the urge to get wrapped up in camera gear. It’s counter productive for me. I don’t want to spend too much money on camera gear. I want to try very hard to invest my time and energy on improving my photography. I really enjoy the creative constraints provided by an unchanging set up and focal length. It’s a consistent way of seeing the world and I like that.

I approach this review from the perspective of someone who usually shoots a full frame DSLR. A big and heavy camera. I've had my Nikon D610 for over two and a half years, along with the 50mm 1.4G, and the 35mm 1.8G ED. That’s it. Just two lenses. It’s worked really well for me, how I shoot, and how I see the world. 

I was going on a family vacation a year ago when I wanted a smaller camera to bring with me. I try to bring my camera everywhere I go, but my Nikon would inevitably knock my kids on the head, or it would knock something off a shelf. I was on the fence between a X100t or the x70. The smaller size of the x70 sold me. 

At first I wasn't sure about the camera. I shoot lots of indoor photos of my kids, and for this I shoot wide open - 1.8 or 1.4, with my shutter set to at least 125 to avoid the blur which so often accompanies young kids. I thought the 2.8 aperture would be too constricting. It certainly took some getting used to - but now it's not an issue. I'm comfortable with the higher ISOs and I usually set it to go no higher than 3200. 

Being used to carrying around my relatively heavy D610 the small and light x70 was freeing. It’s hard to overstate this point. The ability to carry around this camera, stick it in my pocket, or a bag, and feel like I’m not carrying anything is incredible. 

While small, the image quality is so pleasing - the colours, the tones and dynamic range are first rate. You’d think that with such a small camera you’d be sacrificing image quality but that’s not what is happening. The size of the camera is a game changer for my photography.

The wide field of view afforded by the 18.5mm lens on the x70 was initially a challenge for me. I was used to shooting with a more normal 35mm and 50mm field of view rather than the 28mm full frame equivalent afforded by the x70. This has forced me to be extremely mindful of my composition. I can't be lazy if I want good results. I have to subtract from the wide frames I shoot and pay close attention to the outside perimeter of the frame to make sure I have clean and uncluttered photos. I love this challenge, and I believe that this camera and focal length is responsible for considerable growth in my photography.

The autofocus on the camera is also better than I expected. I normally use face detection and it works surprisingly well. On my DSLR I use single point autofocus and recompose so the face detection is a helpful way for me to be quicker and get the composition I want with a better chance of nailing focus with running and jumping kids.

Also, I love the flip screen! I surprise myself how often I shoot from waist-level looking down. I disabled the touchscreen since I find it ends up getting in the way more often than not, messing with my autofocus points, but I do love the versatility and the unique point-of-view you can get using the flip screen. Also, not sure how much of a difference this makes, but I also prefer the flip-screen on the x70 than I do the flip screen on the Fuji x-T2. The screen on the x-70 sits higher on the body of the camera, and so it's easier to see as a result of not being obstructed by the viewfinder and top of the camera. I only used the x-T2 for a weekend, so I'm not sure if this is something that you'd get used to or not, but I did think this more than a few times while shooting.

This x70 has made me realize that the form factor of a camera is an important factor in my photography. Ergonomics matter. The ability to bring this with me places where I wouldn't bring my DSLR matters. This little camera matters. I can't wait for the next year with it.