The Fujifilm X70 is basically the toned-down version of its street photography cult classic cousin, the X100T.
The latter is a rangefinder-styled prosumer compact camera with a large APS-C image sensor and fast 23mm f/2.0 prime lens, and it uses Fujifilm's unique hybrid viewfinder that is able to toggle between electronic viewfinder (EVF) and optical viewfinder (OVF) modes. On the downside, it is expensive at $1,899.
With the X70, Fujifilm has essentially taken the X100T, removed the hybrid viewfinder, and made the body smaller and lighter (by 100g), while retaining the rangefinder-like styling.
The X70 uses a newer 16.3-megapixel X-Trans CMOS II APS-C image sensor but comes with a 28mm f/2.8 prime lens that is not as fast as X100T's.
However, X70 has a few tricks of its own. It uses a new autofocusing (AF) system with 49 AF points in single AF mode and 77 AF points in continuous AF mode. It also has a fully electronic shutter that can shoot at an amazingly fast shutter speed of 1/32,000sec and a maximum ISO of 51,200.
IMAGE SENSOR: 16.3-megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS II
LENS: 28mm f/2.8
DISPLAY: Tiltable 3-inch touchscreen with 1,040,000 dots
SHOOTING SPEED: Up to 8 frames per second
SENSITIVITY: ISO 100 to 51,200
WEIGHT: 340g (with battery and memory card)
BATTERY LIFE: 3/5
VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5
While the X100T's display is non-touchscreen and fixed, the X70 comes with a touchscreen display that is tiltable downwards by 45 degrees and upwards by 180 degrees. Thus, it is suitable for taking selfies.
The X70 is a small camera that easily fits into the front pockets of jackets or blazers. Its aluminium body should give you plenty of confidence when holding the camera. Its nicely contoured front grip and rear thumb rest offer a firm grip.
If you have used a rangefinder or manual camera before, the handling of the X70 will be like second nature. On its top is the shutter speed dial, exposure compensation dial, a Drive button, a video- recoding button and the shutter release.
In front, there is an aperture ring for changing the aperture from f/2.8 to f/16. For full auto mode, turn both the shutter speed dial and aperture ring to A.
On the rear right, there are four directional buttons. Each button can also be customised for quick access to settings. There are also four additional buttons - Quick, AF lock, Display and Function - for swift changing of settings like ISO and White Balance.
As one who prefers using the EVF or OVF for composing photos, I was eager to try the optional Fujifilm VF-X21 OVF. However, I noticed that the display could not be turned off and hated its light shining on my face while I compose photos, so I soon ditched the OVF.
However, when I was photographing the streets on a recent Japan working trip, I realised that passers-by seem to be less evasive when I was using the display to compose pictures. When I switched to the OVF, I noticed they would start to avoid me.
The camera is also really quick and has negligible shutter lag, which will further help you capture the decisive moments on the streets.
It starts up in 0.6sec and takes only 0.9sec to shut down - almost twice as fast as most compact cameras.
Autofocusing is almost instantaneous in bright sunlight. In dim lighting, it takes between 1sec and 2sec to lock onto a focus with the aid of its AF assist light.
Using an SD Card with a writing speed of 90MB per second, the X70 was able to shoot 9 RAW images in 1.8sec before the buffer ran out. Not bad.
Image quality is excellent, with sharp rendition of pixels, smooth skin tones and a great dynamic range that helps preserve plenty of details in the darker areas.
I particularly love the different film-simulation modes that mimic Fujifilm's films of old, such as the Velvia colour slide film and Classic Chrome. I found myself using the Monochrome mode with yellow filter often as it produces black-and-white pictures with nice contrast and dark skies.
Noise performance is outstanding, with no visible noise artefacts up to ISO 6,400. I noticed more visible noise artefacts with colour desaturation at ISO 25,600. Anything above is not recommended as detail loss becomes very noticeable.
Battery life is average for a compact camera, at around 330 still images on a full charge.
• Verdict: At $1,199, the Fujifilm X70 is not cheap , but it is an amazing prosumer compact camera that will not disappoint and is well worth its price tag.