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 for wide- or zoom-glass; that keeps the camera light and removes any possibility of exposing the camera interior to “lens swaps”. Although Fujifilm discontinued the X70 model, I wasn’t concerned because I was confident of finding a second-hand model within the marketplace. I looked online and purchased a “lightly used” silver X70 from a local user on Craigslist in early-May.
Having used a full-frame Canon 6D camera (C6D) since January 2014, 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: see my emphasis here? On days when I only carried the X70, thoughts about weight and relative inconvenience of carrying a larger camera bundle vanished, and I realized the greater potential for a quick image and less-intimidating presence in a wide variety of situations, especially within cities.
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 which sometimes stills throws me off
- Electronic viewfinder 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 video button very 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 C6D was 77%-23% in Austria in May 2018, and 42%-58% in the American Southwest in October 2018 with a big chunk of C6D shots with long-zoom glass of many animals at the Desert Museum in Tucson.
I’m not giving up on the Canon system yet, because of the glass I’ve assembled since 2009. But if I decide to switch, I would give the Fujifilm system serious consideration.
From Vienna to New Mexico
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.
Aside from “iPT6” labelled images of the X70, I made all other images above with a X70 in May and October 2018. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins.com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-bWd.