X70 front profile

For those in the market for a truly pocketable, yet endlessly capable digital camera, the Fujifilm X70 really is a treasure trove. 

Before we start delving into the nitty gritty details of this little giant of a mirrorless camera, however, we have to disclose one unfortunate fact – the Fujifilm X70 was discontinued in 2016 after Sony ceased production of the 16.3MP X-Trans APS-C sensor that this camera is built around. That being said, there are still some very good models available on the second-hand market.

Now, with that bit of old news out of the way, let’s dive into this camera review, explaining what makes the Fujifilm X70 easily one of the best cameras of its kind and the ways in which it can be improved. We will also compare it to inarguably its fiercest rival in its time in production, the Ricoh GR II.

Affiliate disclosure: While we do receive a small kick-back from any sales or leads obtained through our article, this has never and will never affect any of the content posted on our site. At Roamer Photography, we only recommend products that we have used extensively and would pay for ourselves, so while our affiliate links do help us out, these products are never included in our content for the sole purpose of generating income.

Table of Contents

History

Released into the young Fujifilm X family in the early months of 2016, the Fujifilm X70 was overlooked and overshadowed by the simultaneous release of Fujifilm’s new flagship, the Fujifilm X-Pro2. It seems the Fuji marketing team spent most of their resources on their larger, pro-level release and you can hardly blame them for doing so – the X-Pro2 was and still is, an incredible camera

X70 angle profile

This being the case, no one could have predicted that the Fujifilm X70 would have amassed quite as much of a following by this point, still fetching a hefty aftermarket price 6 years after Fujifilm announced that the X70 would be discontinued. In fact, its reputation is such that some sellers are offering used models for prices higher than what was charged for it when the camera was new – and what’s even more incredible, is these listings are successful.

That any discontinued camera still has a following this strong after so many years, and all this without some influential celebrity promoting it to their cult-like following, is incredible. There are many people that are even calling for Fujifilm to bring the camera back, or at the very least release the successor the XF10 set out to be, but never was.

So what’s the appeal? Why are so many people shelling out such hefty sums of money when they could get a technically and optically superior camera like the Fujifilm X-T2 with the XF18-55mm kit lens for less?

Size matters.

But with the Fujifilm X70, the compact and convenient frame isn’t all you’re getting – you’re getting a hell of a lot of performance as well. It was and remains to this day, one of the smallest cameras to ever feature an X-Trans APS-C size sensor, meaning that this unassuming, pocketable body houses a level of performance and image quality that matches and often exceeds that of its larger mirrorless counterparts. And yes, you can shoot RAW with the X70.

Aqaba Jordan sunset

This makes the X70 particularly useful for street photographers. It attracts virtually no attention in a busy urban square, avoiding the chance of a shot ruined by a couple of glances by your subjects. 

It seems like this is what Fujifilm had in mind when they designed the X70 – they even included a flip-up screen to allow for waist-level shooting to add yet another level of discretion to your shooting. 

Ok, I think we’ve raved about the Fujifilm X70’s more obvious benefits in quite a bit of detail now, so let’s delve deeper into this camera and explore the nitty-gritty of what is great, and what is not so great about it. 

The controls

As with most Fujifilm cameras, one of my favourite things about the X70 is the existence of its manual controls. That Fuji’s engineers were able to fit manual dials for shutter speed and exposure compensation on top of a camera this small, even in the absence of an ISO dial, is nothing short of incredible. I love being able to take a quick glance at the top of a camera and know exactly what my settings are. 

Having to delve into the camera’s menu to find and adjust each setting individually does, for me at least, take away from some of the feeling and fun of photography. Not to mention a scenario where you’ve finally found your desired settings, only to look up and find that the light or your composition has changed completely and you’ve missed your opportunity. 

For me, the only effect something like this would have is that it would make me shoot in auto for almost all situations. That is not what a camera aimed primarily at intermediate and enthusiast photographers should do. 

That’s not to say that the X70’s auto modes aren’t up to standard – you can certainly create some fantastic images with it. The decision to use it just shouldn’t be influenced by the design and, luckily, Fujifilm caught on to this a long time ago. 

The X70 also retains the customisable function buttons you find on higher-spec Fujifilm models. This allows you to personalise the camera to make its use as intuitive and easy as you want. This is particularly useful if you are already a Fuji shooter – you can just mirror your previously used settings so that you will be able to use the X70 as intuitively as your previous Fuji camera.

The lens

The lens is arguably the most contentious aspect of the X70’s design, and whether you like it or not will inevitably come down to your shooting style and the type of photography that you practise. 

The X70 comes with a fixed 18.5mm f/2.8 lens (or 28mm full-frame equivalent) that works fantastically well for street photography and portraits, and I’ve found it perfectly capable of capturing some landscapes as well. Of course, it’d be nigh on useless for styles such as wildlife photography, but ultimately you wouldn’t even be considering a fixed, prime lens camera if that’s what you’re planning on shooting.

The Fujifilm X70’s fixed prime lens offers a fairly wide maximum aperture, fast and (usually) accurate autofocus and a very compact, pancake-style physical profile. It can accurately focus until you get within around 10cm of your subject. The aperture ring and the manual focus ring are on the lens itself and, given the low profile of the lens, this can make things difficult when adjusting your settings, particularly if you have larger hands and fingers.

The maximum aperture of f/2.8 is wide enough for shooting in low light and its auto-focus remains competent enough. This isn’t the best camera for astrophotography, as for pictures of a starry night or the milky way you would be much better off with a maximum aperture of at least f/2 and likely a much wider lens, with my go-to being around 12mm (18mm in full-frame speak).

Loch Ness Long Exposure

That being said, the fact that the X70 sports a fixed prime lens strangely does not mean that it can’t go wider. The X70 also supports an additional accessory known as the Fujifilm Fujinon WCL-X70, which can be screwed into the X70’s filter thread to give it a wider (full-frame equivalent) focal length of 21mm, compared to the 28mm the camera comes with. With the release of this accessory, Fujifilm also released a software update to allow the user to tell the camera that the WCL-X70 has been installed so the camera can adjust its settings to avoid any distortion or chromatic aberration in the corners of the images.

WCL-X70 Wide Conversion Lens
Petra Jordan with X70

Film simulation modes

Now on to what is, in my opinion, one of the main draws of every X-Series camera Fujifilm has released in recent years – their famed film simulation modes. 

Fujifilm has capitalised on its long-standing history in the world of photography in the best way possible to instil nostalgia in those who were shooting Fuji’s film stocks in the days before digital cameras were the mainstream, as well as those who have started shooting film more recently. Even if you have never shot film, once you begin rifling through the various film simulation modes Fujifilm have included in this camera, I doubt you’ll be shooting in standard anytime soon.

Goats Petra
John O'Groats
Wadi Rum
Scottish beach with X70

The X70 comes preloaded with 11 film simulation modes, ranging from the vivid and saturated colours of Velvia to the more subdued black and white tones of Acros, all the way to Sepia if that’s the type of mood you’re going for. A personal favourite of mine (and indeed many others who’ve used it) is Classic Chrome, which provides a subdued and distinctly calm feel to an image, perfect for shooting a gloomy cityscape in Edinburgh or the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan.

Edinburgh classic chrome
Wadi Rum Jordan

Fuji’s film simulations give you a great, instantly usable version of your image, but this need not limit your ability to edit that image and make it your own. As the X70 is fully capable of shooting RAW, you can adjust your settings to store each composition in both the film simulation version as a JPEG and the unedited RAW version, if you would like to take your image into Adobe Lightroom (or any similar editing software).

The X70’s shortcomings

Now, if you somehow haven’t been able to tell by now, I am a loyal and long-standing fan of the Fujifilm X70. That said, it wouldn’t be fair on those reading if I was to conveniently gloss over its shortcomings, which every camera, including the X70, inevitably has. There are, after all, some reasons why I no longer own this camera myself.

One such shortcoming, for me the most important, is the lack of a viewfinder of any kind. I understand why the designers at Fujifilm decided to omit it but honestly, I would’ve been quite happy for the camera to have a slightly larger footprint if this meant that a viewfinder, even if only an optical viewfinder, could be added. 

And yes, I am aware of the existence of the Fujifilm X100 series of cameras, but at close to double the price, I don’t consider these cameras comparable, especially since the inclusion of a viewfinder is far from the only difference.

The reason for this is that relying on the screen is far from ideal when you’re shooting in sunny conditions, as I was the majority of the time. The lack of a viewfinder made it difficult to achieve the exact composition and exposure I was going for, leaving me disappointed on a few occasions when returning home to review my shots. 

Loch Lomond Winter

Of course, it wasn’t much of an issue when I had slightly under or over-exposed an image as shooting RAW allowed me to simply tweak this until the image was correctly exposed, but the issues with composition weren’t as easy to circumvent as these were not made apparent until I had moved to an environment in which I could actually see the screen.

Another aspect of this camera that, in an ideal world, would be improved is its autofocus. While, as mentioned in this post, the autofocus of the X70 is usually accurate, it isn’t completely reliable so there may be some instances in which your subject is slightly blurred while a stranger strolling through your background is sharp and in perfect focus

Other than these, the only downfalls that come to mind are subjective matters of personal preference, such as having a fixed focal length and no physical ISO speed dial. Inevitably though, these are all intended and clearly advertised, meaning that those to whom these are issues would not be in the market for this type of camera in the first place. 

Fujifilm X70 vs Ricoh GR II

Unless this is the first article you have read about the Fujifilm X70 or any compact camera with an APS-C sensor for that matter, you will more than likely be aware of the Ricoh GR II. The comparison between the Fujifilm X70 and the Ricoh GR II is inevitable as both cameras occupied a very specific sector digital camera market: that of compact, pocketable APS-C sensor cameras. 

Fujifilm X70 vs Ricoh GR II

And their similarities don’t end there: both sport a fixed 18mm f/2.8 lens capable of shooting 16 megapixels, TTL flash compatibility, a maximum shutter speed of 1/4000 and the ability to store images as both JPEGs and RAW files. They also both lack a viewfinder which, as mentioned in the previous section, may deter some from picking up either of these devices.

Delving further into the specs of each camera, however, makes the one-year gap in their release dates more apparent. The X70’s maximum resolution is 1920×1080 (Full HD) to the GR II’s 1280×720 (HD), it can autofocus on 77 points to the GR II’s 9 points and it comes with an articulating touch screen LCD while the GR II’s is static and does not support touch controls.

That said, the Ricoh clearly blows the X70 out of the water in other areas. The GR II supports a staggering maximum ISO of 25,600 while the X70’s maximum is just 6,400, integrated cleaning and a higher resolution LCD screen.

Given that the GR II comes with a fixed prime lens, you won’t be able to zoom in and out with it as you would with a zoom lens. Ricoh has, however, given their users something to work with here by including a crop setting with which the focal length can be changed to 35mm or 47mm. While this isn’t ideal as it significantly harms the overall image quality, it’s still a nice additional feature to have in one’s back pocket.

In the end, both cameras are fantastic examples of what an APS-C sensor can do in a compact body. I would say that anyone that enjoys either camera would be just as happy with the other, although the film simulation modes and the ability to discreetly shoot at waist-height thanks to the articulating LCD screen make the X70 my personal choice in this case.

For a more in-depth comparison of these two cameras, check out this breakdown by versus.com

Scotland with X70

Recommended accessories 

As great as any camera is out of the box, there will always be some accessories that I will use to optimise my use of the camera – and the X70 is no exception. Here is a list of all of the accessories that I used with the Fujifilm X70.

Hotshoe-mounted thumb rest

This is the very first accessory I add to any camera. If you have larger hands, this makes using a camera, especially one of the X70’s size, much more comfortable. Without it, I always found my thumb knocking into one of the function buttons or the shutter speed dial, so for an accessory that only costs about £5 brand new, a thumb rest is a must for me. 

Check out the latest prices here.

WCL-X70 Conversion Lens

Another great accessory, as I’ve mentioned, is the ultra-wide angle conversion lens that Fujifilm created for the X70. While you are sacrificing some of the benefits of using a truly compact camera, it adds an extra layer of versatility that I think is very useful, particularly for travel photography and when you want to capture landscapes or architecture. And it does all this without affecting image quality at all.

Take a look at current prices here.

Additional batteries

These are a must for any camera that you travel with if you’re looking to avoid spending all day lugging around a camera that you can’t use. The X70’s battery life isn’t terrible, although it’s nothing to write home about so I always kept two charged after-market batteries with me just in case. 

Mini travel tripod

If you’re travelling with the X70, packing light is almost definitely one of your goals. This, along with the X70s minuscule weight of just 347 grams, make carrying a full-size tripod completely unnecessary. I carried a small travel tripod only for when I wanted to take some longer exposures or if we were taking a group photo is noone around to ask. In any case, these are inexpensive and worth having just in case.

When it comes to mini tripods, it’s difficult to do better than a Joby GorillaPod.

Peli case

Now some of you might see this as overkill, and I kind of agree with you, but given that this camera is increasingly rare and I would’ve been extremely unhappy with myself had I let anything happen to it on my travels, I saw a strong protective case as necessary. I used a Peli 1150 case with a customisable foam insert, meaning that it fit the camera, conversion lens and all of the aforementioned accessories easily. 

Conclusion

You can tell by the length of this post that this is a camera I was and still am very excited about. It’s a real shame that, even after all these years, Fujifilm has not released a camera that speaks to the same market and offers the same level of quality as the X70. 

Affiliate disclosure: While we do receive a small kick-back from any sales or leads obtained through our article, this has never and will never affect any of the content posted on our site. At Roamer Photography, we only recommend products that we have used extensively and would pay for ourselves, so while our affiliate links do help us out, these products are never included in our content for the sole purpose of generating income.

Stacc Polliadh
Petra Jordan with X70

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find good models on the second-hand market without needing to take out a mortgage to pay for them. So if you do keep your eye out and find a decent deal for one, I would recommend you snap it up. Even if its shortcomings turn into a dealbreaker for you, you can rest assured that the aftermarket value isn’t dropping. In fact, when I sold my copy two years after buying it, I made a profit.

If we’ve been able to convince you to give this tiny beast of a camera a chance, why not take a look at some second-hand versions of this camera on eBay.

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