The Practical Impractical - Or Using The Fujifilm X-70

on November 30, 2016

I looked at the Fujifilm X-70 some time ago from a seller's point of view - the sleek appearance, the specifications, etc. Trying to push your urge-to-purchase buttons, but without charging up a battery and seeing if it would actually do the job. Today I took that extra step.

My experience with the Fujifilm system grows as I add new lenses and bodies to the X system...but one thing has remained much the same for a long time. I have an original X-100 camera that is the daily shooter throughout the town and has gone on holiday with me many times. It is the camera du jour for many of my trips to car shows, together with he EF-42 flash from Fujifilm. The basic reason is that it has a leaf shutter that allows me to use high shutter speeds in sync with the flash in sunny conditions.

The X-70 also has this sort of shutter. It can sync perfectly well all the way up to over 1/1000 of a second with no complicated behaviour on the part of the flash. You can balance ambient lighting with fill flash easily. The only awkward part of it might be the physical size and balance of the EF-42 and X-70 combination

The other two advantages of this camera over others in the X-series lie with the 18.5mm focal length of the lens and the fact that it is a fixed optic. 18.5mm on an APS-C sensor approximates the view of a 28mm lens on a full frame camera. Not too wide as to distort groups unmercifully, and wide enough to get a medium car in frame from a close distance. Remember my propensity to take car shots...

The fact that the lens is fixed on means there are no intervals when the body of the camera is open to ingest dust particles. I do not have to present it to the techs for a swabbing-out every three months.

Note that there is an wider-angle supplementary lens for this camera that widens it to an equivalent of 21mm in full-frame terms. A little wide for me and certainly prone to perceived distortion.

Okay. We know it looks cool and sits cleverly in the palm of the hand, but does it take car pictures? Does it take details? Can it take model car pictures? Can it trigger a studio flash system? Is the lack of a fixed viewfinder a hindrance?

a. Yes. The sensor is 16.2 mega pixels - better than the X-100 and that is plenty good enough. The new processor and new film simulations are all working well. 18.5 mm is wide enough for a crowded car show or a suburban carport.

b. Yes, it takes details. I pushed it into the model plate on the Suzuki and it kept focusing far closer than I imagined. No special programming was necessary to go in there - it just worked.

c. Yes, it is good in the studio. The trick is to set the tiny little on board flash to commander mode and dial the ISO down to 200. Then with the aperture on f:16 and the shutter speed on 1/250, that little flash contributes hardly at all to the scene in front of it, but cheerfully sets off the slave sensors in the studio lights - they do the exposure. You might want to select a manual focus point or just let the machine run the auto focus on a nearby object.

The detail is actually better at a close range than that of the X-100 lens.

d. Is an eye-level viewfinder necessary? I would have said yes before the advent of the tilting LCD screen. Now, whenever I use a camera with one of these, I tilt it out flat and peer down into it as if it were the waist-level finder of a medium-format film SLR. Works for me.

Note that this LCD screen is also touch-sensitive. You can fire the camera by poking it. As yet I can think of no reason to do this, but there are always new situations. I'll suspend judgement on it.

As I have more cameras than arms at present, I will continue using the other cameras, but the ease of operation of this one leads me to hope that the next iteration of the X-100 series will also have a tilting screen. That would be perfect!