Fujifilm X70 Travel Review

March 05, 2016  •  5 Comments

I'm in the British Virgin Islands and I've taken the new Fujifilm X70 camera with me!

http://leighmiller.zenfolio.com On approach to the airport in Charlotte Amalie at F/5.6 out a very dirty jet window.

The BVI is made up of 60 islands with more or less people depending on where you go. If you sail, snorkel or scuba you want to be here. The waters are crystal clear and the sunshine seems to last forever, minus smog. Exactly the kind of place you want to bring this camera to.

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The lion's share of my time will be spent on Virgin Gorda, home to the world famous "Baths"

The BathsThe Bathshttp://leighmiller.zenfolio.com It's far enough from the busier islands like Tortola, nice and quiet. I didn't want to bring a whole bunch of camera gear and in fact, aside from my Olympus O-MD E-M1 for video, this X70 is the only camera that made the cut unless you count the one attached to the DJI Inspire 1 drone.

That's me...a drone, 1 1/2 cameras and a suitcase.

Fujifilm X70Fujifilm X70http://leighmiller.zenfolio.com Actually, I've had the X70 for a few weeks prior to the trip but the cold, snow and gray skies in Toronto just didn't grab me enough to do much shooting with it. You might remember about a year and a half ago that I took the Fuji X-A1, X-M1 and X100s cameras with me to Europe and Africa. Spain was fine but Morocco is definitely not what I would call a "big honking camera" friendly place. Having those compact cameras was very helpful and much more comfortable. While I loved the small form factor of the X-A1 & X-M1 I missed some of the features in my X-T1 camera. As for the X100s...I just couldn't get that warm and cozy feeling with it. Don't get me wrong, they are excellent cameras but ...I dunno. Something seemed to be missing.

When I got back from the trip I wondered out loud (via email) to a local Fujifilm official that I wished they could take the sensor from the X-T1 and fit it into a body the size of the X-M1 along with a fixed lens.

A year later, here is my Frankenstein camera...except Fuji went quite a bit further.

http://leighmiller.zenfolio.com The X70 has essentially the same insides as it's ILC (Interchangeable Lens Camera) cousins, along with the latest film simulations, wireless and in-camera processing features. The rear LCD tilts, flips and get this...it's now touch sensitive. That's right, you can pinch, expand, and swipe.

If you came for image quality comparisons I'm going to disappoint you. It's exactly the same as the other Fujifilm X-Trans II sensor cameras, which is to say excellent. I've been a user for the better part of four year and I still haven't found a reason to switch back to DSLR or Medium Format platforms.

The camera lacks a viewfinder and has a fixed 28mm (effective) lens in 35mm terms. My good friend promises not to buy it for those two reasons. Before you decide the same consider this: The camera which accounted for the most images uploaded to Flickr in 2015 is made by Apple Inc., not Canon, Nikon, or Fuji. The iPhone series of cameras are the most popular three years running and showing no signs of slowing down. 28-35mm is a pleasing focal length range that works for just about most shooting situations the average user will encounter.

I myself have grown to appreciate it in spite of the fact it doesn't have a viewfinder. I think that feature will gradually disappear from cameras altogether as LCD resolution and functionality improves. As for the 28mm lens...it's sharp wide open and improves to about F4. Stop down only if you need the depth of field.

If I had any influence with the Fujifilm head office, I would insist the following actions be taken with immediate effect:

1) Cancel the X-A and X-M series cameras

2) Cancel the X100T...and maybe even the X-E series cameras

The new X70 beats them all in my opinion, for sheer usefulness, size and fun factor. The price difference isn't that great and the X-T1 and new X-Pro2 handle the ILC end very nicely.

The large rocks in the "baths" area create a maze of caverns and caves. You have to be reasonably fit and slender to comfortably get through them.

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If you go early enough in the morning you can have it to yourself and take your time...set up tripods..

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It get's packed and there will be a lineup in front and behind you

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I took to shooting the X70 one-handed, love the small size

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If you survive the trek through the rocks, the trail spits you out into the open beach

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Have you ever seen water so beautiful?

I also brought along a Vanguard travel tripod to capture long exposure and low-light shots. I love Sunrise and Sunsets...the best part of every single day.

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I have been blessed with the most brilliant sunrises off the back patio every single morning except one. There are cameras with more dynamic range but in practice I've always found Fujifilm cameras to be more than up to direct sunlight.

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Ditto at sunset...shadows have plenty of detail if you need to boost in post-editing

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When the sun dips I break out the tripod for 30 second long exposures

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Luxury overlooking the Sir Francis Drake Channel in St. Thomas

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The view over Smith Bay

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Trio of friends enjoying Smith Bay

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Sugar Beach...secluded, lot's of sun and warm water

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The smaller islands on the way to Virgin Gorda by ferry

Summary

This is exactly the compact camera I've been waiting for from Fujifilm. The X100 series was a miss for me and the other compacts in the lineup didn't have the features i've become used to. The addition of the tilt and flip LCD, touch screen, a sharp fixed lens and wireless connectivity is all you need to back up a tried and proven image sensor. 

If you can live with the fixed lens and lack of viewfinder this camera is great for travel and other excursions where weight and size is an issue. It's small enough to slide in the pockets of my baggy shorts. In fact I was able to stow it away in my drone case when I was heading out to scout locations.

No camera is perfect and I have my beefs with the X70...the battery/memory card location. Very inconvenient for a camera that lends itself to landscape and long exposure photography. The photographer may want to mount it on a tripod and when the memory or battery is used up, the entire mounting hardware for the tripod has to be removed.

Video...I know Fujifilm isn't as concerned about video like Sony, Panasonic etc. However the lens makes an audible sound while focusing and is picked up by the in-camera mic. I've taken to manually focusing it in which case the video/audio is not bad at all. Still it's a hassle.

On balance though, this is the single best compact camera Fuji has introduced .


Comments

5.Leigh Miller 2017
@Sean: 4, 7, 11, 12, 13 were done on a tripod. The rest all one handed as I walked through the Bath's. It's a smaller and lighter version of the X100T and the electronic level makes it easy to line up shots on the fly.

I can't put my finger on why the X100s/t didn't work...they always felt a little behind in terms of tech. The lack of a tilting screen, etc...sometimes a camera just doesn't feel right. Purely a subjective thing.
4.Richard(non-registered)
X70 is less expensive, has viewfinder and zoom lens and no one talks about it. Why? Because it's not a "pro" camera?
3.Sean(non-registered)
Thanks for an excellent review, Leigh! To be honest, I'm waffling between the X100T and the X70 at this very moment. The one-handed operation of the X70 is tempting, as I'm not sure that's possible with an X100T (or X100S, for that matter). Would you mind elaborating a bit on why the X100 series didn't work out for you? Also, of the images posted in your review, how many were hand held, as opposed to using a tripod? Thanks! :)
2.Alabi2k(non-registered)
Actually, St Thomas is part or the U.S.Virgin Islands (along with St Croix and St John). Virgin Gorda is British.
1.Jared(non-registered)
Thanks for the review, Leigh. You're pushing me closer and closer toward a Fuji every time.
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