Instead of merely talking or whining about a desire to carry something lighter for day-to-day photography situations, I decided to do something about it a couple of weeks before my month-long visit to Austria in May 2018.
I looked online for a mirrorless compact camera, but I didn’t need the latest or a top-line model. I preferred an older model with a lot of online reviews and user comments, and I decided on a compromise among three criteria: cost, weight and size, and image quality.
Feather-light fixed-lens prime
I honed in on a Fujifilm X70 which is an APS-C format, 16-million pixel, fixed-lens prime with focal length 18.5mm (28mm full-frame equivalent)1 and maximum aperture of f/2.8. The lens cannot be removed or switched out for another lens; that removes any possibility of exposing the camera interior and minimizes dust contamination.
Ritchie Roesch also wrote:
… (Released in the first quarter of 2016, the X70) was the short-lived baby-brother to the X100T, with an 18.5mm fixed-lens. Sony suddenly stopped production of the X-Trans II sensor, which the X70 used, and that killed the camera. The X-Trans III sensor was too hot to place inside the small X70 body, so (a possible update to an) X80 never happened. (Fujifilm discontinued the X70 model in the 4th quarter of 2018.)
I wasn’t concerned about availability, because I was confident of finding a second-hand model in the marketplace. I began looking online in March 2018; I found and purchased a “lightly used” silver X70 from a local user on Craigslist in early-May.
I’ve used a full-frame Canon 6D mark 1 camera (6D1) since January 2014, and I knew what sacrifices with the X70 would entail: no optical viewfinder, fixed focal length, and limited dynamic range in low light. But what I gained were weight and portability. On days when I only carried the X70, thoughts about weight and relative inconvenience of carrying a larger camera bundle vanished, as I realized the greater potential for a quicker image and less-noticeable presence in a wide variety of situations.
What I like about the X70:
- Small and fits inside jacket pocket
- Lightweight, at 340 grams or 12 ounces
- Articulating touch-screen
- Intuitive and easy-to-adjust controls for aperture and exposure
- Beautiful JPG colours straight from the camera
- Easy to use “panorama mode”
What I don’t like about the X70:
- No optical viewfinder
- Digital screen always ‘on’, drains battery quickly
- Too easy to accidentally activate touch-screen setting of Focus-Shot-Off
- Noise pattern visible at ISO 3200
- No on-board GPS, but that’s easy to overcome
- I don’t take much video, but the video button is difficult to engage
As I write this, I’ve had the X70 for 5 months, and I’ve “flipped the image number counter”. That means I’ve already snapped over 10-thousand exposures. Ultimately, the temptation to “go light” proved true, fulfilling my own prediction. My usage of the X70 versus 6D1 was 77%-23% in Austria in May 2018, and 42%-58% in the American Southwest in October 2018 with a significant number of 6D1 images of animals at the Desert Museum in Tucson.
I’m not giving up on the Canon system, because of the branded glass I’ve assembled since 2009. But if I decide to switch, I would seriously consider the Fujifilm system.
X70, from Vienna to New Mexico
All images were produced in-camera in both JPG and RAW (RAF) formats with the default or Provia film simulation. I produced “black and white” images in post-processing.
1 I also have the silver Wide Conversion Lens WCL-X70 which simply screws on top of the X70’s fixed-lens. The WCL-X70 converts the camera to a wider 14mm (21mm equivalent) focal length which is a lot of fun to use in a wider field setting. Take Kayo (aka bigheadtaco) reviewed the WCL-X70 for FujiLove.
Aside from “iPT6” labelled images of the X70, I made all other images above with a X70 in May and October 2018; alle Fotoaufnahmen sind mit Wasserzeichen versehen worden. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins.com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-bWd.