Hip Replacement : The Fujifilm X70 for Street Photography

The X70 was delivered 5 minutes before my train was due to leave for Edinburgh. It takes 5 minutes to drive from my house to the station, so I ripped open the cardboard box and then quickly opened the familiar black Fuji box (no ripping here). I grabbed the plastic bag with the camera inside and stuffed it in my pocket. I had batteries, an SD card, a leather wrist strap and a lens hood in my camera bag just incase the X70 arrived on time (Thanks Royal Mail Special Delivery). 

I got To the platform with only seconds to spare, boarded the train and sat down to unwrap the small, but surprisingly weighty X70. I bought the black version because I wanted it to be as stealthy as possible on the street, otherwise I might have gone for the silver and black version (like myX100). But this was about function rather than looks. 

The camera is pretty much an X-T1 with a touch screen LCD, but without a viewfinder. I have two X-T1's so it was like second nature setting the X70 up. The buttons are smaller and a few reviewers have expressed a dislike to them due to being tiny and certain ones being a little awkward to press. Maybe it was because I was anticipating this, but I don't have a problem and even prefer them to my X-T1's by a long way. The button layout is sort of familiar, but again slightly different from other X-Series cameras. I could be wrong, but I don't think any X-Series body has ever had the same layout. The layout is fine on this one, it's just that I need to constantly think which camera I'm using and where the buttons are. This takes a street photographer out of the zone and that's not good. 

The Main Menu and Q Menu are almost identical to the X-T1 except for a couple of items related to the touch screen. I like that you can hold in the Trash button for a couple of seconds to reassign it to control another feature when in shooting mode if you like. After all, it only needs to be a trash button in playback mode. And speaking of buttons, there's one on the side of the camera under your left hand that can be used to assign what the focus ring does. There's plenty of options, including ISO, film simulation, digital crop and many more. On the subject of cropping, the Digital Crop allows you to choose the full size of the 28mm lens or a cropped version at 35mm or 50mm. I don't see this as a problem for the 16mp X-Trans sensor, but I won't use it too much. 

The touch screen works well and I had no problem seeing it on a bright day. There is an optical viewfinder available as an optional accessory, but it is cold shoe and only displays two bright frame lines on 28mm and 21mm, but no other information. Why 21mm I hear you ask? Because like the X100 series, the X70 has a WCL (wide conversion lens) available that screws on the front of the fixed 28mm lens to take it down to 21mm. If it's anything like the one for the X100 it will be sharp and gorgeous.

 Just returning from the Edinburgh Tattoo

Just returning from the Edinburgh Tattoo

But back to the touch screen. The limited amount of functions are enough for now. I'm not a big fan of touch screens, but I can see a few situations that it could come in handy. When shooting, there's a little on-screen button at the top right of the LCD that toggles between OFF, FOCUS (tap the screen where you want your focus point to be, but it doesn't actually focus) and SHOOT (Tap a point on the screen and the camera will focus and shoot). There is a short delay in the Shoot Mode as the camera locks focus, so it's not that great for street photography where the subject is moving quickly toward you, but fine for static or slow moving targets. The big plus for this mode is not needing to press the shutter button, which can disguise that you're actually taking a picture. 

The X70 does have a few negatives, but I think these could all be fixed in a firmware update.

1. There should be an option to switch off the LCD when using the optional VF-X21 optical viewfinder.
2. When setting the X70 for use with the WCL-X70 in the menu, the focus distance scale in manual focus disappears. This has to be a bug.
3. The focus distance scale when in manual focus, is too small on the LCD and the blue bar that shows your zone of focus is really difficult to see. This is important when zone focusing. 
4. Tap to focus and shoot is a great feature on the touch screen, but the lag needs to be reduced.
5. Another useful mode of the touch screen would be tap to focus (but not shoot).

As you can see from the picture, the X70 is shorter in length than the iPhone 6 and just a fraction shorter in hight. The iPhone 6 does win in thickness though:o). I've used this leather wrist strap (by Cam-In) on a few of my X-Series cameras, but I think I'll have to find a smaller one for the X70.

 I can't believe you're talking to this clown

I can't believe you're talking to this clown

The X70 is the best camera I have used when shooting from the hip! The tilting screen can be flipped out slightly for general hip style, or all the way for a shot from the ground or even a TLR style where you're looking straight down at the screen. I can flip out the opposite way to shoot above your head. Like a lot of photographers, I had no interest in a camera without a viewfinder, but after the first 5min on the street with the X70 I was hooked. 28mm focal length (full frame) for a hip camera is perfect for me. It has an interesting look and is far enough away from our eyes field of view that it has a magnetic effect to the viewer. It pulls them in and holds their attention, even if they don't quite know why. I'm looking forward to getting back out on the street with my new tiny friend. 

 Harvey Keitel's uncle Frank's sister's cousin's brother's son?

Harvey Keitel's uncle Frank's sister's cousin's brother's son?