Fuji X-70 - First and (maybe NOT!) Last Impressions

Discussion in 'Fuji X100 Forum' started by Ray Sachs, Feb 19, 2016.

  1. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    I ordered an X70 from B&H yesterday afternoon and due to the miracle of living within one UPS day of NYC I picked up the X70 at the local UPS depot this morning at 8:30. By mid-afternoon I've already clearly determined it's going back to B&H. Not because it's a bad camera in ANY way, or even a lesser camera than the Coolpix A I was comparing it to in any way. It's just not near as convenient in use for the overwhelmingly specific way I use the Coolpix 99% of the time. So here's my tale of woe for those interested, but don't say I didn't warn you as to how specific this would be to my particular idiosyncrasies... The X70 is a great little camera - 99% of photographers will probably love it - it's just not great for me compared to what I've already got... Please don't be discouraged - anyone should give it a try.

    First rude surprise - no battery charger! This is a trend I hate. Fortunately I stopped relying on manufacturers chargers a while ago, having bought one of the Watson dual chargers with interchangeable plates for different batteries. The plates are only $2 each, so I ordered one of those for the Fuji battery - I'd have grabbed a second one if I'd realized there wasn't a charger because I ordered a second battery as well.

    I was able to get the camera figured out pretty quickly. On my Coolpix A, I have two custom settings on the mode dial and the only real differences between my two setups are the auto ISO settings and my starting aperture settings. I have one custom slot set up for street, with a max ISO of 6400 and a minimum shutter speed of 1/500 with a default aperture of f8, and one for more static shooting with a max ISO of 3200 and a minimum shutter speed of 1/80, with a default aperture of f4. Any other settings I just move to one of the PASM modes and set up to taste, but these two custom slots work as starting points for the vast majority of my shooting with such a camera. With the X70, there's no mode dial and there IS an aperture ring, so changing the ISO setup is a menu based operation and I have to use the aperture ring to make sure I'm in the right aperture for the job. There are three auto-ISO settings in the ISO menu, so you can set each of them up the way you like, pull up the ISO menu with a fn button of your choosing, and then switch between the two settings.

    Once I figured out the basics, I headed out on the street to see how well I could switch quickly between general settings and street settings and just how it felt in use.

    Long story short: I find the Coolpix A much quicker in action to switch between shooting modes. It's a hasty judgement and I'm sure I'd get somewhat faster on the X70, but just from the number and types of steps involved, I know I'll find it more cumbersome than I'm willing to deal with.

    Short story long: On the Coolpix A, I have to switch between the U1 and U2 settings on the mode dial, and then switch between AF and MF with the switch on the side of the camera. When switching to MF, I also have to turn the focus ring to set focus to about 2 meters. This is generally about a 2-3 second combined operation. On the X70, I have to hit the fn button I've assigned ISO to, then use the up and down buttons to select the auto-ISO setting I want, using a half press of the shutter to lock the new setting in. Then I have to remember to set the aperture manually each time I switch. And I have to also use the switch on the front of the camera to switch between AF and MF. This three step process is a lot more cumbersome than on the Coolpix, even allowing for being new to it. First, using a menu to change the ISO setup is a lot less quick than just turning the mode dial one position. And then you have to add the step of adjusting the aperture ring, which was one of the things I liked in theory on the X70, but actually slows down my most common operation by adding an additional step.

    Switching between AF and MF is about the same on both cameras - both are mechanical switches in similar positions reachable from the left side of the camera. But changing the focus once in MF (I shoot street using a zone focus approach, and use 2 meters as a starting point on these small 28mm equivalent cameras) is actually more difficult on the Fuji for two reasons - the focus ring doesn't move the focus point as quickly or smoothly, and the focus scale is a lot harder to see, particularly in bright light. What I thought would be good news with the X70 is that the manual focus distance is sticky, but that only applies when you turn the camera off and back on. So if I'm only shooting street and have MF set to two meters, I can turn the camera off and on as many times as I want and the focus will be set to two meters. On the Coolpix, I have to reset the focus from it's default of infinity to two meters each time I turn on the camera, but it's such a quick movement of the focus ring that I have that down to muscle memory and it barely adds any time at all.

    And the MF distance is not sticky on either camera when you switch between AF and MF, a much more frequent move in my shooting universe. So if I'm in AF shooting some scenic shot or macro-ish shot, and then want to switch quickly to 2 meters for a street shot, I have to use the focus ring on either camera to get there. If I'm way down in macro territory, I can get there pretty quickly using the focus ring or I can just quickly flick the Coolpix off and back on again and it will reset to infinity focus, which is just a tiny turn to get back to two meters. On the X70 this wouldn't work because the sticky focus would keep the focus down in the macro range. The Coolpix is quicker and smoother than the X70 and allows for a shortcut not available on the X70. And the focus point on the X70 is just really hard to see, particularly if you have the aperture wide open and there's barely any DOF to create some contrast with the DOF scale around the focus point. If you remember to reset the aperture to f8 before you start moving the focus ring, there's enough DOF that you'll pretty quickly see where the combination of the focus point and surrounding DOF scale is as it moves up the scale. But if you leave the aperture down near f2.8, good luck finding the focus point! On the Coolpix, there's no DOF scale and the focus point is just really easy to see in any light. And, as noted, the ring moves the focus point much more smoothly.

    Continued below...
     
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  2. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Continued from above:

    I have to say here that neither of these cameras holds a candle to the Ricoh GR in this respect. On that camera, I could use the custom settings on the mode dial like I do on the Coolpix, but in addition to setting the ISO setup and the aperture, I could also set one to snap focus at 2 meters and the other to AF, and ALL of this would be accomplished by just flicking the mode dial back and forth one position. I'd be using a GR in a New York minute if only they had the auto-ISO setup I like. But they don't and that's a bigger deal to me than the extra second or two it takes to make this set of moves on the Coolpix A. But the X70 is a far more cumbersome process than either the Coolpix or the GR. When they say Fuji is designed to slow you down, they might have been on to something. Sometimes that's a good thing. For me, in this situation, not so much.

    The features I was most interested in with the X70 were the aperture ring, sticky MF, exposure comp dial, and the flip up screen. So far, the sticky MF is a bit of a help when turning the camera off and on but a much bigger hassle when switching between AF and MF a lot. And the aperture ring actually adds a step to switching between my most common shooting modes, so it slows things down a good deal. I suppose I should have anticipated both of these downsides, but sometimes you just have to start using something to figure it all out.

    The other two features are definitely pros with the X70 - I'd always rather adjust exposure comp using a dial visible on the top of the camera than to hold a button with one finger while I turn a dial with my thumb and watch the values change on the screen. Which is what I have to do on the Coolpix and I prefer THAT to the rocker switch on the GR, which has weirdness of it's own to work around. That said, it's not a time saver particularly, but it is more aesthetically pleasing and I just find it works better for how my brain is wired. And the flip screen, while no longer as critical to my shooting as it once was, is a really nice option to have. All other things being equal, I'd rather have a camera with a flip screen and manual exposure comp dial than not, but neither of them are big enough deals to me to counter the downsides mentioned already.

    A couple other things with the X70. The raw files are about 50% larger than those on the Nikon - not sure why, but Fuji files have always been kind of big - maybe something to do with the X-Trans color array??? And Fuji continues it's long and proud tradition of inflating it's ISO settings between 2/3 of a stop and a full stop. This isn't a big deal most of the time, but when I'm in a low light street shooting situation, I have to under-expose the Fuji by almost a stop (and then bring the exposure back up in post processing) to get the same shutter speed and aperture combinations I can get on the Coolpix. This doesn't ultimately cause any downside to IQ, but its another inconvenience in shooting operation that my feeble brain doesn't need to deal with. For many many MANY people this would be a non-issue, but for me it's one more small pain in the ass with this camera compared to the Coolpix (or nearly anything else).

    The upshot of this write-up is that I'm a ridiculously picky SOB, particularly with a camera of this type that plays a very specific role in my shooting life. The X70 is a delightful little camera. If you're pre-disposed to like Fuji's way of doing things, love their colors, love their jpegs, etc, I'd recommend it to nearly anyone. To at least give it a try. I had to try it. I thought I'd love it. But it turns out some of it's greatest strengths are also it's greatest weaknesses for me and it adds to the hassle factor for the role a camera like this plays in my life.

    If I wasn't a street shooter with highly specific likes and dislike about how I like to shoot, I'd probably love this camera. But that's who I am. So it goes back, You may find it fits you like a glove - nearly anyone would. Anyone should give it a try and most people will probably love it... Just not for me...

    -Ray
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2016
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  3. serhan

    serhan SC All-Pro

    May 7, 2011
    NYC
    That is quick:) Everybody has their own requirements.... For me it is the speed of af coming from a smaller gm5+14mm combo... They were mentioning in the preproduction reviews and it is same in the production units:
    First Impressions: Fujifilm X70
     
  4. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Yeah, I think it's good I got off of Amin's loaner program a couple years ago - my wants and likes are just too damn specific to be of any use at all to the general population. The AF on the X70 seems more than adequate to me, but I'm fine with the relatively pokey AF on the Coolpix A also, so I shouldn't be trusted. For action with a wide angle, I'm always gonna prefer zone focus - it's just inherently quicker and more forgiving than even the fastest AF. With longer lenses, doing street portraits or something, particularly with a larger aperture and going for some subject isolation, THEN I'm real happy to have and use AF, which the DF handles with aplomb. But I just don't care much about AF speed with a camera like this.

    -Ray
     
  5. robert

    robert New to SC

    8
    Jul 28, 2013
    North Florida USA
    Ray,

    I have been a long time lurker. As my camera hot buttons are very similar to yours, I find your camera evaluations very helpful and, far more relevant than some of the “full-time” reviewers. Thank you.

    I am a Ricoh GR owner and generally very pleased with it, with the big exception of the auto ISO implementation. I wish it had the Auto ISO implementation that the Coolpix A has, and that you prefer, which would make it almost perfect for street work. However, for my general photography, I am looking for a compact that has an articulating screen and a zoom lens yet still has the major features of the GR for street. Specifically I’m looking at the Canon G5 x. I have read your, for the most part, favorable evaluation of the G7 x which is very similar. Does the G7 x have an Auto ISO feature somewhat similar to the Coolpix A? I, too, shoot manual zone frequently. How is the G7 x implementation with zone? Sorry if this is a bit off topic, and thanks in advance for your thoughts on the G7 x/G5 x.

    Based on your evaluation I can eliminate the Fuji X70. I thought the absence of a mode dial, if nothing else, would be a problem. You confirmed that.

    Bob
     
  6. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Hi Bob,

    The G7X is a little bit of a mixed bag in that area. It does have an auto-ISO setup that lets you control shutter speed, but it's very crude. It only has three settings in what Canon calls "rate of change", which I don't honestly understand. One is very very slow. One is about 1/shutter speed. And the last seems to be about 1/1000 regardless of where you are in the zoom range. I use the 1/1000 option, which is too damn fast most of the time, but it comes down when it needs to and the only bad result is a higher ISO than necessary on some shots. But I limited the ISO to 3200 I think, which the camera handles well, so it actually was pretty effective. But nothing like the control over shutter speed that the Nikon or Fuji give you, or the GR, within it's rather meager limits of 1/250. The really good news with the G7X, and I presume the G5X as well, is that it has a single custom setting on the mode dial, but it can remember EVERYTHING. So I have that set for street mode and all I have to do is turn the mode dial from A to the C (custom) setting and it's immediately ready for zone focus on the street, with the right auto ISO setup, the right aperture, the focal length I'd designated for street, and sets the camera to manual focus and the focus distance to 2 meters. So that's about the easiest transition between general AF shooting (which I usually did from A mode) and a very specific street setup that I've yet seen. Other than the GR, of course, if they'd just upgrade that auto-ISO feature slightly... But that shutter speed control on the Canons just isn't as good as I'd like, and my understanding is they use something like that approach throughout their lineup. But I hope I'm wrong, at least with their newest releases...

    Hope this helps. Good luck,

    -Ray
     
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  7. trisberg

    trisberg SC Veteran

    251
    Jul 5, 2011
    New Hampshire
    Ray, thanks for sharing your experience with the X70, always enlightening, sometimes relevant to my use :). I have an X100T that I love using, so looking forward to trying the X70 out. I don't need custom settings or a mode dial, so I actually prefer the Fuji dials. As for the distance set when switching to MF, my X100T stays at the last distance focused on in AF mode, so it is perfect for someone using AF mostly but sometimes switching to MF for fine tuning. Not so much for someone always using the same zone focus distance. I really can see why this X70 wouldn't work for you.

    -Thomas
     
  8. Lightmancer

    Lightmancer Super Moderator

    Aug 13, 2011
    Sunny Frimley
    Bill Palmer
    Ray, as a happy GR user I don't see the personal benefit in an X70 but my view is hypothetical not empirical ;)

    Two questions:

    Are you a member on FujiXSpot? If not do you mind if I post a link over there to this thread?

    In the short time you had the camera did you notice if it would take the TCL and WCL auxiliary lenses for the X100? It would require a screw-off ring on the front of the lens and a 49mm male thread. There would also be a setting in the menu. I haven't seen any mention in the write-ups so I assume not.
     
  9. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Bill,

    Feel free to post a link - I'm technically a member, but I've been uninvolved enough with Fuji for long enough that I rarely spend time there...

    My understanding, from what I've read elsewhere, is that the X-70 can take both X100 auxiliary lenses, but Fuji doesn't recommend it - maybe because of their weight on a lens assembly not built to handle it? I know they're planning to release a WCL-70 specifically for this camera that will make it a 21mm equivalent (similar to the GR's auxiliary lens), but I don't think they're going for a longer one because they have the digital crop feature designed into the camera.

    -Ray
     
  10. Burkey

    Burkey SC Top Veteran

    625
    Apr 18, 2011
    Northern New England
    Ray - Thanks for the very well crafted X70 review. I greatly appreciate your thoughts from your vantage point as a photographer with specific needs and not just as a reviewer who either "loves it or hates it".
    As a huge Fuji fan, while still acknowedging some of the little camera's shortcomings, I'm mostly liking what I see with the X70 so far although the missing viewfinder is very bothersome to me. I'm not much of a streetshooter and tend to hover on my shots way too much prior to making the exposure. Will the X70 replace my other Fuji bodies - X-T1, X-Pro 1 and X-E2? Not by a long shot. (All puns intentional.). But as a grab and go pocket image making tool I'll hang on to mine, at least for a while.
    Again, thanks for the well crafted X70 user review.
    . . . David
     
  11. Lightmancer

    Lightmancer Super Moderator

    Aug 13, 2011
    Sunny Frimley
    Bill Palmer
    Interesting. Many thanks (and I shall post a link)
     
  12. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    I should think about going into politics, because I can change my mind with the best (or worst) of 'em... Since I can't get an RMA from B&H until probably Monday, I took the X70 along when my wife and I went into Philly this morning. I miss my little dog something fierce, but it's been a loooooong time since my wife and I could go into the city together for a lazy morning of walking and eating and hanging out, so I guess that sort of freedom will help us get over it a little bit...

    Anyway, on a relaxed morning walking around Fishtown, switching between casual shooting and brief bursts of street type shooting, the transition between the two didn't bother me. There was one time that the light was such that I just about couldn't find the focus point when I switched to manual focus and, when I did find it, I couldn't see the numbers on the scale to see where to put it. But most of it went pretty smoothly. And I did find myself really enjoying the flipscreen and it's touch features, for focussing, shooting, and looking back through shots. In addition to touch to focus and/or touch to focus and shoot, it does the trick where you can touch it ANYWHERE when you're in manual focus and it'll shoot, so the stealthy street shooter can be even stealthier - not having this is no handicap, but having it can be nice in some situations... And for reviewing images, you can just sweep through them and pinch to zoom like with a smart-phone, which I can't see as anything but a nice convenience. Also, last night, I processed a few of my shots from yesterday, and I do like those Fuji files. They have their own look. I wouldn't say it's better or worse than the competition, but they have their own thing going on. And the various Fuji color profiles are really nice.

    So, I'm not sure at this point whether I'm gonna return it or not. I think I'll take it back into the city on Monday for a day of my kind of shooting and see how I feel about it after that.

    Here are a few of yesterdays quick and dirty test shots...

    24520870054_70f2e705c7_b. West Chester X70-11-Edit by Ray, on Flickr

    25033289582_1cd70ee1fc_b. West Chester X70-18-Edit by Ray, on Flickr

    24524691343_ea181cb941_b. West Chester X70-32-Edit by Ray, on Flickr

    Pretty decent close focus and bokeh for a not that fast 28mm lens...
    24524692733_f59c554564_b. West Chester X70-27-Edit by Ray, on Flickr

    24524690693_83e6289a09_b. West Chester X70-49-Edit by Ray, on Flickr

    -Ray
     
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  13. rayvonn

    rayvonn SC Veteran

    309
    Jan 19, 2015
    I see what you mean about the files having their own look, it's nice. It seems as if you'd be justified having both cameras.
     
  14. RT Panther

    RT Panther SC All-Pro

    Dec 25, 2012
    Saw one at my local B&M store today - looked pretty kEwL ! :cool:
     
  15. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    I can't see much reason for both - they're such similar cameras I'd probably pick one or the other. OTOH, I do have two copies of the Coolpix A and neither has a lot of resale value, so maybe I'll keep one of them, sell the other and the G7X, and keep a Coolpix A and the X70 and then probably eventually offload the one I don't use... It's a thought I hadn't really considered until you mentioned it. Thanks! I think... ;)

    -Ray
     
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  16. trisberg

    trisberg SC Veteran

    251
    Jul 5, 2011
    New Hampshire
    I just got my X70 and so far so good, haven't found a deal breaking issue yet. I tried the WCL X100 just to see how that would work.

    DSCF0007.
    So, quite a bit of vignetting, I think I'll wait for the dedicated X70 wide converter.

    To keep a slim profile I tried a 49mm female-female filter adapter and added a 49mm filter. This worked great. Same setup didn't work on the X100T, the lens hit the filter at the closes focus distance, but on the X70 it worked. Looks like the wider lens protrudes less when focused close, which makes sense. This adapter is a bit thinner than the Fuji AR-X100 that works well on the X100T.

    DSCF0799.

    I'll post some pictures from the camera later.

    -Thomas
     
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  17. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    The combination of that particular filter/ring setup and the beat up OVF really gives it an old school look. Nice! I have a 28mm OVF, but anytime I put it on the Coolpix, I just don't enjoy using it much and then don't, so I doubt I'll even try it on the X70...

    Here are a few shots from yesterday:

    24528856843_72d111f271_b. Fishtown X70-54-Edit by Ray, on Flickr

    24860043870_0e375fd56c_b. Fishtown X70-31-Edit by Ray, on Flickr

    25037441352_f55b863360_b. Fishtown X70-78-Edit by Ray, on Flickr

    25037439702_e697f0dd26_b. Fishtown X70-5-Edit by Ray, on Flickr

    I'm digging those Fuji colors again to be sure...

    -Ray
     
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  18. trisberg

    trisberg SC Veteran

    251
    Jul 5, 2011
    New Hampshire
    Nice Ray, I really like the purple hair shot.

    Took a walk around Exeter, NH with the X70. I think the lens delivers better results than the X100T with the WCL converter.

    DSCF0022.
    DSCF0033.

    Ice cream in February:

    DSCF0037.

    DSCF0046.
    And then the sun came out to add some color:

    DSCF0056.

    -Thomas
     
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  19. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    It's a great camera, but it's going back. I'm quite sure I could have gotten past the little niggles I described in the first post, but it doesn't really add anything to what I can already do with the Coolpix A. A couple of nice features, but no differences that matter. And I'm trying to keep my impulse buys down at the level of an occasional old MF lens from ebay. Maybe if Nikon upgrades the DF with the D5 sensor at some point in the next couple of years I'll have a look at that, but honestly I like the DF and Coolpix A combination so much I don't need to think about anything else anytime soon - really until what I've got now isn't functional anymore for some reason. I like Fuji stuff and the X70 is right up my alley, so I guess I had to check it out. And it's really nice - I'd heartily recommend it to anyone! But I can't even rationalize buying one (and I can rationalize damn near ANYthing), let alone justify it. So, no more from me on this fine little camera.

    -Ray
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2016
  20. Burkey

    Burkey SC Top Veteran

    625
    Apr 18, 2011
    Northern New England
    Well Ray you most certainly gave the X70 an excellent workout. Kudos to you. I'm still working through the uniquenesses of the camera. Impulse buys, aka GAS attacks, are an issue for me too as I will be fully retired as of June 1st. More time for photography, (and family), less money for toys, so I hear you loud and clear on the impulse buying thing.
    Thanks for your input on the X70, your thoughts, as always, are greatly appreciated.
    . . . David
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2016