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Fujifilm X70 review: For $700, the photos don't get much better than the X70's

It's not for everyone, but certain types of photographers will find it a great camera at the right price.

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Lori Grunin
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Lori Grunin

Senior Editor / Reviews

I've been writing about and reviewing consumer technology since before the turn of the century. I'm also a photographer and cat herder, frequently at the same time.

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8 min read

Are you a manual-focus-first street photographer who views the world in wide angle and doesn't care about a viewfinder? Then you'll love the Fujifilm X70. This enthusiast compact, which incorporates a large-for-its-class APS-C sensor, runs $700 (£550, AU$1,050) and delivers the best photo quality I've seen for the price.

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8.0

Fujifilm X70

The Good

Great photo quality for the money and a manual-friendly design are the Fujifilm X70's high points.

The Bad

It has slow autofocus and some annoying controls.

The Bottom Line

It's not for everyone. But if you're a manual-control freak who views the world at a wide angle and won't miss a viewfinder, the Fujifilm X70 is a great camera.

But it's not all lollipops and rainbows. Slow performance and some annoyingly designed controls may mar the shooting experience for some folks.

Image quality

The camera's native sensitivity range runs between ISO 200 and ISO 6400, with expanded to ISO 100 and ISO 51200; you can only shoot JPEG in the expanded ranges. JPEGs in the entire native range -- up through ISO 6400 -- look clean. While there are still a lot of reasons to shoot raw instead of JPEG, for the X70 cleaning up noise or improving on the noise-reduction in the JPEGs aren't two of them.

Fujifilm X70 full-resolution photo samples

See all photos

Its raw files generally don't have a ton of color noise, and even brightening up underexposed ISO 1600 shots by 3 stops yielded decent results. As with most cameras in this class, there's a reasonable amount of detail preserved in the shadows, but not much reclaimable in blown-out highlights or overexposed shots.

Colors in the default film simulation setting look bright and saturated but still render very neutral. In overexposed shots the sky pushes to a flat cyan, but reducing the exposure corrects it. I do think the setting crushes the shadows a little too much, at least for my taste.

The lens is sharp all the way through the aperture range, from f2.8 to f16, though with the softening around the edges that you typically get from wide-angle lens distortion. The X-Trans sensor, which doesn't use an antialiasing filter to blur fine edges, contributes to that sharpness. In fact, the photos are so sharp I only half-jokingly recommend that you avoid selfies, unless you have perfect skin.

However, the lack of an AA filter means there's a lot of moire and edge jitter on fine lines in the video, which can get quite distracting. Highlights tend to blow out as well with the defaults, so some experimentation with settings is necessary. Otherwise, it's typical HD video.

Analysis samples

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At ISO 3200, you can see JPEGs losing just a hair of sharpness if you look really hard.

Lori Grunin/CNET
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At the top of its native range, ISO 6400, JPEGs are still very sharp and relatively noiseless. You can see a significant increase in softness in the expanded range.

Lori Grunin/CNET
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There isn't a lot of detail to recover in blown-out areas, but that's pretty typical.

Lori Grunin/CNET
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The X70 renders saturated but accurate colors.

Lori Grunin/CNET
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Keeping in mind that the Four Thirds-sensor LX100 was tested at 50mm equivalent vs. the X70's fixed 28mm, which affects everything from depth of field to distortion, you can see how the X70 preserves a lot more detail at ISO 3200 than the LX100.

Lori Grunin/CNET
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The rounded aperture blades produce very nice out-of-focus highlight areas and smooth transitions.

Lori Grunin/CNET

Performance

Despite the incorporation of the same autofocus system as the fast X-T1, the X70 has some of the slowest-performing focus I've encountered recently. In center-point focus it iterates back and forth, but in the slightly faster multipoint autofocus it uses a wider area that, like most multipoint systems, doesn't always choose to focus on what you want and the point selections change with every prefocus shutter half-press. In continuous AF, it forces a refocus even if the subject hasn't moved.

Time to power on and focus and shoot isn't bad; because the camera has a fixed focal-length lens, it doesn't have to extend the lens as part of the startup sequence. But 1.4 seconds still isn't great.

The camera has an optional High Performance mode which ostensibly boosts startup and focus speed at the expense of battery life. I didn't formally test with it on, but startup seemed a tiny bit faster and the lens seemed to drive a bit better, but still took a long time iterating back and forth for focus. It also has an eye-detection autofocus mode which lets you choose right eye or left eye priority. (It falls back to face detection if it can't find eyes, but I find the thought that it can find a face that has no eyes a bit scary).

Focusing and shooting in good light takes 0.7 second -- that's what it should be for bad light, at worst. Instead, in dim light it rises to 1.1 seconds. Two sequential shots for either JPEG or raw also runs 0.7 second, significantly slower than competitors, and slow enough that I tended to miss shots with moving subjects. And with flash enabled that rises to 2.2 seconds.

Shooting in a typical street-photography configuration -- f5.6 or smaller, fixed shutter speed and the lens set on manual focus for a fixed distance -- is much faster. So if that's your technique then you don't need to worry about the X70's performance. The small files don't require much processing, so there's little overhead there.

Fujifilm rates the continuous-shooting speed at 3 frames per second, but it tested out at 3.3fps for JPEGs when the shutter speed was above 1/500th second, for at least 30 frames. However, the camera does shrink the focus zone to the middle of the scene with continuous autofocus in burst mode. Raw burst is less impressive: it can only handle about 6 frames (albeit at 3.9fps) before slowing and stuttering considerably.

The battery life isn't bad, though, despite a low rating of about 330 shots. As long as you charge it at the end of the day it should last long enough for most users. I couldn't get the supplied charger to work with the battery, though, or a second charger and battery; thankfully, the camera also supports USB charging.

Shooting speed

Sony RX100 IV 0.2 0.3 0.2 0.2 2.1Panasonic Lumix LX100 0.2 0.2 0.4 0.5 2.5Ricoh GR II 0.2 0.7 0.4 0.5 1.2Fujifilm X70 0.7 1.1 0.7 0.7 1.4
  • Shutter lag (typical)
  • Shutter lag (dim)
  • Typical shot-to-shot time
  • Raw shot-to-shot time
  • Time to first shot
Note: Seconds (smaller bars are better)

Continuous-shooting speed

Fujifilm X70 3.3Panasonic Lumix LX100 4.1Ricoh GR II 4.1Sony RX100 IV 5.7
Note: Frames per second (longer bars are better)

Design and features

With a few exceptions, I really like the camera's design. Though the grip is small, it's curved so your fingers have a place to rest, and in combination with the back thumb grip, is pretty easy to shoot with one hand.

There are dedicated dials for shutter speed and exposure compensation, as well as an aperture dial on the lens with two big grips on it; the lens is pretty flat, so the grips are necessary to easily turn it. As with most cameras of this design, you can switch into shutter- or aperture-priority modes by turning the aperture and shutter dials, respectively, to the auto position. For full automatic, there's a switch on top.

A focus mode switch on the front can be operated without looking, as long as you can remember which positions the manual, continuous and single are in.

In addition to the typical selection and layout of controls on the back, there's a jog dial above the thumb rest. You use it to scroll the options within a given parameter (such as changing ISO sensitivity speeds within the quick menu) and to select 1/3-stop shutter speeds (so, for instance, when the dial is set to 1/125 second, that's how you get to 1/80, 1/100, 1/160 and 1/200 second). The playback and delete buttons are on the top bezel of the LCD, which feels a bit odd but you get used to it.

The display has limited touch functionality, though it supports the essentials: touch focus, touch focus/shoot, and swiping gestures for navigating during playback.

You can customize the Quick menu and all the button assignments, too.

The X70 has one of the more comfortable grips in its class of cameras.

Sarah Tew/CNET

But then there's the stuff I don't like so much. The record button is really hard to feel and press, though the location is fine. The navigation buttons are flat and difficult to press. The tripod mount is too close to the battery and SD card hatch, which will be a problem if you're planning to shoot on a tripod or if you use a sling strap that attaches there (as I do).

It's also frequently hard to see the display in bright sunlight. That can be a big problem since its 28mm equivalent fixed focal length lens is so wide you need to check the edges of your frame a lot. Unless you *want* stray limbs and other objects poking in.

I prefer a narrower lens for street photography -- more like the 35mm model on Fujifilm's higher-end X series cameras -- that's personal taste, though. On the other hand, 28mm is a nice wide angle of view for selfies and groupies.

Fujifilm's wireless system is one of the nicer ones I've used. Though the connection process is typical, Fujifilm's app is full-featured and fast, both for remote shooting and file transfer.

The camera doesn't have much in the way of unique features. It uses Fujifilm's film simulations, which control color and tone curves, and the ability to save 7 sets of custom settings -- I think that's the most I've seen.

The navigation buttons are too flat and hard to manipulate precisely, which can get frustrating.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Conclusion

Despite it's quirks, the Fujifilm X70 definitely makes my short list for enthusiast compacts, and if photo quality is your top priority, then it's a top choice for less than $800.

Comparative specifications

Fujifilm X70 Fujifilm X100T Ricoh GR II
Sensor effective resolution 16.3MP X-Trans CMOS II 16.3MP X-Trans CMOS II 16.2MP CMOS
Sensor size APS-C
(23.6 x 15.6mm)
APS-C
(23.6 x 15.8mm)
APS-C
(23.7 x 15.7mm)
Focal-length multiplier 1.5x 1.5x 1.5x
OLPF No No Yes
Sensitivity range ISO 100 (exp)/ISO 200 -ISO 6400/ISO 51200 (exp) ISO 100 (exp)/200 - ISO 6400/ 25600 (exp) ISO 100 - ISO 25600
Lens (35mm equivalent) 28mm
f2.8
1x
35mm
f2
1.5x
28mm
f2.8
1x
Closest focus 3.9 in/10 cm 3.9 in/10 cm 3.9 in/10 cm
Burst shooting 3 fps
unlimited JPEG/n/a
(8fps for 10 frames JPEG)
6fps
25 JPEG/ n/a raw
(burst only available with focus and exposure fixed at first frame)
4fps
unlimited JPEG/4 raw
Viewfinder
(mag/ effective mag)
None Hybrid
Reverse Galilean
92 percent coverage
EVF
0.48 in/12.2 mm
2,360,000 dots
100% coverage
Optional
Reverse Galilean
(GV-1, est $230; £150; AU$300)
Hot shoe Yes Yes Yes
Autofocus 77-point phase-detection AF
49-area Contrast AF
n/a
Contrast AF
190-point
Hybrid AF
AF sensitivity n/a n/a 1.5 - 17.5 EV
Shutter speed 30 - 1/4,000 sec (1/32,000 electronic shutter); bulb to 60 minutes 20 - 1/4,000 sec; bulb to 60 minutes 300 - 1/4,000 sec; bulb; time
Metering 256 zones 256 zones n/a
Metering sensitivity n/a n/a 1.8 - 17.8 EV
Best video H.264 QuickTime MOV 1080/60p @ 36 Mbps H.264 QuickTime MOV
1080/60p, 30p
Motion JPEG AVI
1080/30p, 25p, 24p
Audio Stereo Stereo Stereo
Manual aperture and shutter in video n/a Aperture only No
Maximum best-quality recording time 14 minutes 14 minutes 25 minutes
IS None None None
LCD 3 in/7.5 cm
Tilting touchscreen
1.04m dots
3 in/7.5 cm
Fixed
1.04m dots
3 in/7.5cm
Fixed
921,600 dots
(plus another set of white dots for brightness)
Memory slots 1 x SDXC 1 X SDXC 1 x SDXC
Wireless connection Wi-Fi None Wi-Fi, NFC
Flash Yes Yes Yes
Wireless flash n/a Yes Yes
Battery life (CIPA rating) 330 shots
(1,800 mAh)
450 shots 320 shots
Size (WHD) 4.4 x 2.5 x 1.8 in
113 x 64 x 44 mm
5.0 x 2.9 x 2.1 in
35.2 x 49.5 x 10.8 mm
4.6 x 2.5 x 1.4 in
117 x 63 x 34.7 mm
Body operating weight 12.4 oz
350 g
15.5 oz (est.)
439.4 g (est.)
8.8 oz
248 g
Mfr. price $700
£550
AU$1,049
$1,100 (est.)
£780 (est.)
AU$1,600 (est.)
$700
£500
AU$890
Release date (US) February 2016 November 2014 July 2015
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8.0

Fujifilm X70

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 7Image quality 9