A few days back, I was talking to a fellow photographer who was looking to get a compact body to shoot on the streets. He was considering an X100T or a more compact body like Fujifilm’s X70 or Ricoh’s GRII. And since I use both the cameras from Fujifilm and also shoot on the streets, he asked me about my experience and preference.
With the launch of X100F, the price of X100T is coming down to a range where getting a used X100T won’t require a significant more investment than an X70. And many are asking the same question. So, I thought I will write my experience with these two cameras. Both the cameras are old in terms of camera years and have been reviewed and compared by far more knowledgeable people. So instead of looking at the features, underlying technology (not much difference anyway), ergonomics and on location experience, I want to focus on how these cameras require a completely different approach. A critical yet often underrated factor.
For me, if X100T is James Bond then X70 is Xander Cage of X series cameras. Both gets the work done i.e. help you to make the image, but the approach you need to adopt is entirely different. While X100T let you be suave, refined and classy, X70 will force you to be more on the face, fidgety and to an extent downright arrogant. Okay, let me elaborate.
1. X70’s 28mm vs. X100T’s 35mm
We all know that X70 has a wider lens than X100T (or any X100 series camera). But how wide is the difference of 7mm? Well, it is huge. Millimetre lens distances work in reverse exponential. So it may seem insignificant when you zoom from say 135mm to 142mm, but in a wide angle range, it is significant. So if you are not careful while composing, you run the risk of adding a few elements within your frame which may spoil the story. Like the two pink dinosaurs below.
So to get a similar field of view as a 35mm equivalent lens with X70, one needs to move in closer to the subject. So let’s do that.
Here I moved the camera forward to get a field of view similar to X100T. Not really to be honest. Note the edge on the camera left. You can still see the glass frame which you can’t in the image taken by X100T. So, my framing is still a bit wide but by this time our main subject’s head is chopped off. I can move a little bit back but that will mean including more of that ugly metal frame, or I can tilt the camera up.
2. X70’s 18mm vs. X100T’s 23mm
So I did the later. I tilted the camera up by a little to get Tintin’s face within the frame.
That’s better. We have all the characters within the frame. But wait. Again look at the edge on the camera left. It is bending inwards. Also, both Captain Haddock and Prof. Calculus seems to be leaning a bit and what happened to Tintin. He seems to get a bit stretched upwards. Now we got geometric distortion. Geometric distortion will occur with any lens when the camera is not parallel to the subject. But wider the lens, more pronounced the distortion. And X70 has an 18mm lens where the distortion is way more apparent. Optics, I say.
3. X70’s tilting LCD and no viewfinder vs. X100T’s fixed LCD vs. viewfinder
X70 doesn’t have a viewfinder like X100T. There is an optional viewfinder, but I don’t have it and it is expensive. The LCD on X70 is perfect for all practical purpose, and it tilts. You can now be the Ninja street photographer shoot candidly like Vivian Maier from the waist level. Yes, you can pretty well do that only if you remember the first two points. The fact that you need to get really close means that you need to shoot at the subject’s level which unless someone is sitting or lying down will mean at your eye level.
Yes, you can do the same with X100T but since there is a viewfinder which you will use often and the screen doesn’t tilt, you will have more intent and will put much more effort to go down on your knees The chances of you getting lazy are much higher with X70 than X100T.
4. X70’s “premium compact for everyday use” vs. X100t’s “thrill of control and passion for shooting.”
Those are taglines for these two cameras from Fujifilm’s website. X70 is actually pocketable. It fits (without any hood, strap or cover) comfortably with space for my wallet inside the front pocket of my cheap AU$5 jeans. Doing the same with X100T is a bit of a stretch. X100T is small, but X70 is smaller. And for street photography, smaller is better.
I am not so sure about the control and passion for shooting part. Both the cameras have almost the same controls and passion for shooting has to do more with shooting and less with cameras anyways. The only other control is the viewfinder in X100T which is necessary for many types of photography. But for street photography, composing with the rear LCD is very much a fair go. But yes, having a viewfinder is definitely useful and in that aspect, X100T gives a better control
4. The curious case of X70’s RAW files.
Now, this is not exactly related to the way you shoot. Or it may because you can end up shooting JPEGs only if you don’t have extra cash. I am not really sure why, but the RAW files from X70 is not recognised by Lightroom 5.x version. This was a surprise to me given that both the cameras use the same sensor and the same image processor. But it seems you need to upgrade to LR6 or get an Adobe CC subscription. That is another AU$108 with G.S.T. Well, you can use Adobe DNG converter or edit the EXIF data (something I haven’t tried) but it means an additional step in the workflow. But I guess it is also true if you intend to buy X100F.
It may seem that I favour the X100T over X70. And in a way perhaps I do as it is a more versatile and easier to use. Like I said, X70 is more like Xander Cage. It requires a bit more patience, discipline and understanding to operate and comes with conditions.
The point is both the cameras are very capable for street photography. Both will allow you to go wide.
Both will force you to move closer.
Both will help you to tell a story.
I think it comes down to you as a photographer and what you want to achieve with these cameras. If subtility is your style then go for X100T and if making a ‘statement’ is your style then go for X70.
And here is a rough guideline if you are still not sure which one to get.
Get X70 if
1. you are comfortable getting uncomfortably close to people.
2. you have been shooting with a 35mm equivalent lens and now want to go wider (and closer).
3. your style is or you are trying to develop a style which is more ‘on the face’.
4. your reason for getting the camera is not ‘effects’. The problem with ‘effects’ (read heavily distorted human beings) is it wears off quickly. And once it does, you will end up selling your camera within in 3 months time.
For everything else, get an X100T or F or even S depending on your budget.
Hope this was helpful. More later.
To read another perspective on the same topic, head over to Fujifilm-Blog to read an excellent post by Kevin Mullins, a Fujifilm X-Photographer from the UK.