Fujifilm FinePix XP70 Waterproof Digital Camera Review

Rating:

As camera sensors in smartphones have improved, sales of low-cost point-and-shoot cameras like Fujifilm’s $220 FinePix XP70 have suffered. The reasons for this are pretty clear: a good smartphone, even a year-old model like Samsung’s Galaxy S4 can produce images that are at least as good as the FinePix XP70—especially if, like most casual photographers, you stick to auto settings.

But there are still plenty of reasons why some users will still want a dedicated camera like the FinePix XP70. For starters, this model is waterproof down 10 metres, while most phones (aside from a few Sony and Samsung models) can’t survive a dunk in a shallow puddle. And even if you have one of the few phones that can take photos under water, futzing with a touchscreen and tiny buttons to snap photos underwater is far from easy. The FinePix XP70 on the other hand, like most dedicated cameras, has pleasingly tactile buttons that are easy to find with your fingers.

fujifilm-finepix-1

The FinePix XP70 is also reasonably ruggedly built, rated to handle 1.5 metre drops and temperatures as low as -10 degrees Celsius. The camera also has built-in WiFi for easy transferring of your photos and videos to your smartphone or tablet (a feature not often found in cameras in this price range). And aside from being able to shoot 1080p video at 30 frames per second (or 60i), it also has a 5x optical zoom, which is one feature you won’t find in many smartphones.

If those features sound appealing, and you’re fine with the kind of image quality you can get from a good smartphone, the FinePix XP70 shouldn’t disappoint. The 16-megapixel sensor in the XP70 is the same that was found in the previous-generation XP60, which launched at the beginning of 2013.

fujifilm-finepix-2

Design & Controls

The Fujifilm FinePix XP70 is available in blue, yellow, or red, with the colored front and sides made of metal. Aside from the 2.7-inch LCD screen on the back, the rest of the camera’s shell is made from solid-feeling black plastic.

The camera is quite small (67x104x26mm), which makes it easy to slip into a bag or a loose pocket. But that also means the controls are a little cramped, especially on the back. Controls on the top are intuitive, though, with a big, textured shutter button on the right, and a silver power button and a red video record button to the left.

The buttons on the back are all to the right of the screen, which you’ll need to use to frame your shots, as there’s no optical viewfinder. Up top is a pair of zoom buttons for 5x optical/10x digital zoom. Below that is a tiny play button for reviewing photos or video. A directional wheel (for switching between camera settings), a WiFi button, and back button in the lower-right corner, all of which are used for changing camera settings and navigating the camera’s operating system.

Fujifilm does a decent job of making the control layout and the camera’s OS intuitive. But those with large hands will have a tough time fiddling with all the tiny buttons jammed in such a small space. Most users will stick mostly to the automatic settings, meaning you won’t have to fiddle with the buttons on the back all that much.

There’s also a metal hoop bolted on the right side, where you’re meant to attach the included camera strap. I’d highly recommend you do that, especially if you’re planning on shooting underwater. Because the camera is so small, there’s not much room to grip it. There is, though, a small area below the zoom buttons with tactile nubs for you to plant your thumb on when shooting, which helps a little.

Because it’s waterproof, the camera’s ports and its SD/SDHC/SDXC card slot are hidden behind a sealed door on the right side. Press in the center button and turn the wheel 90 degrees, and the door opens. Here you’ll find the removable battery and card slot. Also located here is the charging port, which is thankfully standard Micro USB (A charger is included), as well as a Micro HDMI port, in case you want to plug the camera directly into a TV. A threaded tripod hole is found on the bottom of the camera.

fujifilm-finepix-3

Image Quality

So, just what kind of photos can you expect from the FinePix XP70 and its 16.4 megapixel sensor? If you stick to auto settings and you’re outdoors in sunlight, you’ll usually get good results. In particular, macro photos of flowers turned out surprisingly well. And the 5x optical zoom lets you get closer to subjects than you can with most smartphones without resorting to image-degrading digital zoom.

There’s also a built-in panorama mode which continuously takes images while you pan the camera around, then stitches them together automatically. This is a nice feature in theory, but in practice with this camera, the results were mixed. Sometimes it worked great, and sometimes sections of the image were poorly blended. Recent smartphones seem to accomplish this trick much more effectively, likely because they have more powerful processors to handle the blending task.

If you want to capture a lot of images in a short time, the camera has a burst mode that can shoot 10 images per second at full resolution, or more if you reduce the image size.

fujifilm-finepix-4

Like many smartphone cameras, the FinePix XP70 stumbles in anything other than bright light. In medium or low indoor lighting, images often look okay when viewed on a low-res screen. And switching to the camera’s low-light preset helps brighten up dark interiors. But when viewed at 1080p resolution or higher (full-size images are 4608 x 3456), many indoor photos suffer from a soft-looking or fuzzy focus and a lack of detail. The camera’s low-light setting, while it makes images look brighter, generally exacerbates the fuzziness in image details.

The camera does have a built-in flash, which is better than what you’ll find on most smartphones. And it does help in close quarters in dark areas, delivering much sharper images than you’ll get without it. But using the flash brings its own problems, like red eyes, glare, and washed out faces.

Video taken with the camera generally looks pretty good at 1080p and 720p. And you can use the zoom function while recording video. But again, this is an area where modern smartphone cameras have better features, with some models recording at 4K, and others (like the iPhone 5s and recent Samsung Galaxy phones) offering high-frame-rate/slow-motion capture, which can be great for sports or fast-moving subjects.

Battery life is pretty good. Fujifilm rates the removable battery at 210 photos per charge. That actually seems a bit low, as I took several dozen photos with the camera over the span of a couple weeks, many using the flash, and the battery indicator never dropped to the one-third-full mark.

fujifilm-finepix-5

Conclusion

Overall, the Fujifilm FinePix XP70 is smartly designed and ruggedly built to handle the cold of winter and a swim in the summer. If you’re looking for a waterproof, entry-level point-and-shoot with the ability to send photos wirelessly to your other devices, it will serve you well. As a low-cost solution to take decent snaps outdoors in all kinds of weather, the XP70 is a good choice. Just don’t expect spectacular pictures—especially indoors. If you’re looking to take high quality photos, you should look elsewhere to more expensive options like a DSLR or an interchangeable lens camera like Sony’s Alpha line.

Included in the Box:
Fujifilm FinePix XP70 (or XP80)
Battery
Charger
Strap
Manual

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Fujifilm Finepix XP70
Author Rating
4
The following two tabs change content below.

Matt Safford

Matt Safford spends his days testing gadgets and writing about technology. He has written for Popular Science, Smithsonian, Consumer Reports, and Wired.

Latest posts by Matt Safford (see all)

Similar Posts

There are no comments yet, add one below.

Leave a Reply


Name (required)

Email (required)

Website